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Ultrasound, Light Therapy, & Lymphatic Drainage  for Clogged ducts, Engorgement, & Mastitis

Ultrasound treatments facilitate milk let-down and subsequently decrease pain and firmness. It may quickly unblock the duct by the effects of heat and micromassage to open the ducts and increase circulation, thereby assisting in movement of milk through the area.  In addition to ultrasound therapy we provide light therapy and manual lymphatic drainage techniques to further clear the clogged ducts along with patient education and home program for self-management and prevention of recurrent clogged ducts.

Symptoms of clogged ducts include:

  • Breast tenderness

  • Redness

  • Lumps or wedge-shaped area of engorgement

  • Heat

  • Swelling

  • Pain with nursing, especially with letdown

  • Pain may decrease after nursing

Symptoms of mastitis include:

  • Hard, swollen, red, painful area in the breast

  • Flu-like aching

  • Chills

  • Fever


Once mastitis has progressed to infectious mastitis, antibiotics may be used to control the bacterial infection but often do not correct the underlying cause. Failure to identify and treat the underlying cause may lead to recurrent mastitis.

Physical therapy intervention with therapeutic ultrasound (TUS) and manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) for clogged milk ducts, engorgement and mastitis works wonders in conjunction with a qualified lactation consultant.
The combination of ultrasound and manual therapy has been shown in the literature to be effective at clearing blocked milk ducts resulting in decreased pain, decreased difficulty with breastfeeding, and improved confidence in clearing blockages (Cooper & Kowalsky, 2015).  These have also been recently recognized as effective treatment options in the 2022 ABM protocol (Mitchell et al, 2022)
Many women may experience issues that limit their ability to breastfeed, and clogged milk ducts or "plugs" can certainly contribute to this.  Swelling in the breast tissue with increased lymphatic fluid congestion and dilated blood vessels and compress milk ducts and prolonged compression of milk ducts may cause milk stasis, leading to blocked ducts.  When a duct is blocked the milk can build up and form a tender lump in the breast along with inflammation and decreased available milk supply.  If this is not cleared, it may lead to non-infectious mastitis, then on to bacterial infection mastitis and eventual abscess formation.

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