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Clogged Milk Duct / Mastitis

Maya was an amazing resource during my most recent bout with a stubborn clogged duct that led to Mastitis. Seeing her provided some immediate relief and by  the third visit the clog disappeared and my infection cleared up. I am so happy to have discovered her/Shift and I won’t hesitate to go back the minute I feel a clogged duct coming on! Thank you Maya!” -M.M.

Clogged Milk Duct

Clogged milk ducts are very common in women who are breastfeeding, especially in the first few months. They occur most commonly with milk stasis, a build up of milk within the affected breast that often becomes hardened in the duct and blocks the milk flow out of the nipple.


  • pain
  • swelling/lumps in the breast tissue
  • heat
  • redness

If left untreated, may lead to Mastitis

Clogged ducts, when they do not resolve quickly, may lead to the development of a bacterial infection called mastitis. Stagnant milk that is clogged in the breast is a breeding ground for bacteria and transfers during breastfeeding through the baby’s mouth or through small cracks or open areas of the nipple. A mastitis infection can cause the woman to experience flu-like symptoms as well as increased pain and difficulty with breastfeeding.

Additionally, the breast will feel different and the milk will taste saltier which may further deter the baby from wanting to feed. Mastitis often requires antibiotics as treatment in order to prevent the formation of an abscess and further complications.

Treatment for Clogged Milk Duct / Mastitis at Shift

Clogged ducts may resolve themselves with regular feeds, gentle massage, and a warm compress over the affected breast. However, if a clogged duct does not resolve itself, physical therapy treatment has proved to yield positive results after a few days of consecutive conservative treatment, thus preventing the development of mastitis.

Treatment Plan at Shift

  • Lymphatic drainage – helps to decrease inflammation around the affected breast tissue
  • Continuous Therapeutic Ultrasound – deep heat therapy that helps open the ducts and promote circulation
  • Manual soft tissue mobilization – loosens the connective and fascial tissues surrounding the breast
  • Taping – to help position the breast in an optimal position to reduce fluid build up
  • Instruction of preventative techniques are also provided in order to help women learn how to best position and care for their breasts during this crucial time period, in order to reduce the risk for another infection.


Studies have shown that three consecutive days of conservative Physical Therapy management can help rid of mastitis by reducing the clogged duct and promoting circulation and flow of milk in the breast. Successful treatments also allow women who are continuing to breastfeed the opportunity to avoid use of taking antibiotics.

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