Lymphatic Massage – also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) – is a highly specialized and gentle massage technique used to increase lymph flow and encourage the natural drainage of the lymph from the body tissues. It is a very safe and effective technique that is useful for many conditions where lymph flow may be compromised, such as lymphedema, swollen limbs caused by a variety of different things, in diabetics, sports injuries, post surgical, etc. For example, many clients require lymphatic therapy or lymphatic massage to treat the increased swelling and lymph accumulation that occurs after a mastectomy, or other surgical procedures, especially those where lymph nodes may be removed or damaged.
The lymphatic system relies on intrinsic contractions of the cells that line the walls of the lymph vessels, as well as the contraction and movement of skeletal muscles, to propel lymph through the vessels and to the lymph nodes. From the these nodes the lymph travels to the lymph ducts, which return the lymph to the cardiovascular system. Manual lymph drainage uses a small amount of pressure (<9 oz per square inch) and rhythmic movements to stimulate lymph flow. Treatment may also include specific exercises prescribed by your lymphatic therapist, breathing techniques, and compression garments or self-bandaging techniques to further promote lymph drainage after therapy and between treatments.
The benefits of lymphatic therapy are many:
- removal of metabolic wastes, excess water, toxins, bacteria, large protein molecules and foreign substances from the tissues.
- through its gentle rhythmical and precise hand movements, lymphatic therapy works to alleviate pain by greatly reducing then pain signals sent to the brain.
- relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system, thus helping to relieve stress.
- supports and enhances the immune system
- promotes healing from injuries, surgical trauma, chronic conditions, and edema
- minimizes scar formation.
Combined Decongestive Therapy involves:
- Lymphatic Therapy – patients receive Manual Lymph Drainage to remove excess fluid and protein. The MLD is performed to open lymphatics in the unaffected regions so these can help to train the affected area. MLD stimulates lymphangions to increase their activity, which results in a decompression and emptying of obstructed lymphatic channels.
- Compression Therapy – Bandaging of the affected limp follows each MLD session. This is a precise and accurate procedure using specific bandages and interfacing materials.
- Remedial Exercises and Breathing – this further promotes venous and lymphatic flow by activating the muscle and joint pumps.
- Skin Care and Hygiene – excellent skin cleansing with antibacterial washes and neutral balanced pH lotions will help to eliminate bacterial and fungal growth and so minimize the possibility of repeated attacks of cellulitis and/or lymphangitis.