For many people undergoing cancer treatment, or individuals undergoing some types of surgeries, healing from infection, or even recovering from accidents and injury, fluid build-up in the limbs becomes a serious medical condition. For these individuals, manual lymphatic drainage therapy can provide not just relief from the discomfort but highly effect management options for the future.
The Healthy System
When the body is healthy and the lymph system is functioning, fluid is moved through the lymph vessels and nodes where toxins and contaminants are removed and flushed from the body. This movement is from the outer extremities to the core of the body through the lymph system, and it occurs through natural muscle movement to push the fluid through the system.
If there are blockages in the lymphatic system this natural action doesn’t happen. The result is that the fluid collects in the soft tissues that are affected by the blocked lymphatic drainage. This swelling can damage the skin and can cause mild to severe pain; it can even impact the ability to move.
Relieving the Swelling
Through highly specialized techniques, manual lymphatic drainage therapy can be used by a certified lymphedema therapist to gently propel the fluid through the system.
This is similar in some ways to massage, but it uses very different and very specific movements of the hands along the lymph vessels of the body. It is not a deep motion or pressure, as the lymph system is just below the skin, but rather there is a gentle and repetitive motion with different parts of the hand depending on the affected area of the body. Movement of the limbs will also be used to simulate the deeper pathways and provide increased movement through the nodes.
The lymphedema therapist is stimulating the natural movements of the muscles that would push the lymph through the system. This repetitive movement is aimed at the area just under the skin, supporting their action to more the lymph from the extremities to the central part of the body. Patients find it relaxing and soothing, and the relief from the fluid build-up can in many cases be noticed immediately during treatment.
The practice of manual lymphatic drainage therapy is used around the world to treat swelling related to decreased functioning of the lymphatic system. In addition this, other treatment options including compression wraps or garments as well as specific exercises can be used to prevent swelling and stimulate the lymph system.
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