Physiotherapy for Mastitis

What is Mastitis?

  • Mastitis is a blocked duct which presents as a tender breast lump, and may also cause localised redness
  • Milk accumulating behind the blockage causes milk protein to escape from the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue
  • The protein is recognised as a foreign body, creating an inflammatory response in the surrounding tissue

What are the common causes of Mastitis?

  • Interuppted or erractic feeding patterns,or sudden changes in feeding patterns
  • Baby sleeping longer overnight
  • Skipping feeds
  • Suckling replaced by bottles or pacifies
  • Finger compression
  • Tight garments or bras

How can Mastitis be prevented?

  • Ducts are small, superficial and easily compressed. Avoid restrictive clothing or bras which may put too much pressure on breast tissue. If your clothing is causing red marks, this may indicate it is too tight and potentially squashing milk ducts
  • Avoid lying on stomach for too long as this can also squash milk ducts
  • Ensure correct positioning and attachment with good sucking action for good milk transfer

What are the signs and symptoms of Mastitis?

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Fatigue and generally feeling unwell

How can Physiotherapy help?

  • Advice regarding rest, anti-inflammatories, heat prior to feeding to encourage letdown, ice after feeding for pain and swelling, posutre, correct massage techniques and referral to lactaton consultant when appropriate
  • Therapeutic ultrasound to help soften and break up blockage
  • Massage to assist milk removal
  • Techniques to optimise lymphatic drainage


Physiotherapy tends to work best if treatment is sought as soon as a blocked duct is noticed. If you are experiencing blocked ducts or mastitis, or are unsure if physiotherapy can assist you with your feeding issues contact us to make an appointment with one of our physios or call 96817255.


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