Blocked ducts occur when the pipe carrying milk through the breast becomes plugged.
The milk ducts in the breast carry milk from the 1mm wide milk making sacs, called alveoli, towards the nipple. The milk ducts are very narrow where they meet the alveoli, and increase in size as they converge on their way towards the nipple, much like creeks draining into rivers that then drain into lakes or oceans.
When you get a blockage it’s as if there is a dam wall in the way preventing milk from getting down the pipe.
Start massaging the area straight away using 5-10% pressure on the skin at the blockage.
This is definitely possible. The differences between mastitis and blocked ducts are:
aches and pains
For further information on mastitis, see our Mastitis Info page.
Ultrasound therapy may be useful in clearing your blocked milk duct, or at least in helping to clear it. The ultrasound therapy creates a local thermic effect (heat) when the wand is moved over your skin. The ultrasound waves themselves create a vibratory effect in the tissues underneath, and so if there is a blocked duct there, the vibration may jiggle the blockage material right at the source of the problem. This can assist the massage component of blocked ducts treatment due to a loosening of the blockage with ultrasound prior to the massage. The ultrasound therapy is painless and simply requires the practitioner to move the wand head over the skin with some gel lubricant. You may feel some warmth radiate from the wand.
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen provides the most-effective reduction in symptoms such as pain and inflammation. Paracetamol can be taken in conjunction with ibuprofen. Use as directed and speak to your pharamacist about your individual use.
Antibiotics are not used in the treatment of a blocked duct. They may potentially be useful if you experience mastitis but many mastitis sufferers do not require antibiotics.
Clogged milk ducts can pretty frustrating and uncomfortable to deal with — but keep at it. Most often you are able to clear it with requiring further intervention, or developing an inflammatory response of mastitis
If the clog persists despite your efforts for longer than 2 days — or you find you’re experiencing frequent issues — our clinic provides blocked duct treatment to teach you self-massage treatments to clear the blockage, as well as preventative strategies for you to improve your breast tissue health. This in turn may prevent blocked ducts occurring. You can make an appointment online or by calling the clinic.
Another option if you are not local to our clinic is to check out our sister company, Your Two Jugs Pty Ltd, an online education platform teaching women our blocked duct therapy so they can help themselves. Our Blocked Duct Masterclass also has preventative techniques for you to master so you might be able to stop the stress of recurrent blocked milk ducts.
consider making an appointment with a lactation consultant (breastfeeding specialist) or your doctor. You may be able to change some things in your feeding routine to help with better drainage of your breasts.