Lymphatic drainage in Physiotherapy and its benefits !

Lymphatic massage is often called Lymphatic Drainage. Lymphatic drainage is a gentle, rhythmic massage treatment done by a specially trained lymphatic massage therapist to stimulate lymphatic fluid circulation around the body.

Lymphatic masage techniques given by trained therapist

Manual Lymphatic Drainage [MLD] is a unique, gentle type of skin massage technique that promotes the drainage of lymph from a limb into a normal draining area. It is used primarily to treat lymphoedema. This helps speed up the elimination of waste and toxins from a sluggish lymphatic system. 

Additionally, lymphatic massage can help prevent swelling after injury or surgery. It's also thought to give your immune system a significant boost. Lymphatic massage is a specialized treatment where additional qualifications are required. If you are interested in lymphatic drainage please make sure your massage therapist is properly trained.

Is Lymphatic Drainage Helpful?

Lymphatic massage aims to make your lymphatic and circulatory system more efficient. This can reduce the risk of impeded circulation by reducing the volume of retained fluid and the associated pressure. This increases the capacity of your circulatory system to quickly move retained fluids out and build up any toxic waste. We have found that in some cases a patient feels quite "energized" after drainage.
Lymphatic massage technique

Lymphatic massage enhances circulation, increases metabolism, and. It is capable of improving your immunity. In post-operative conditions which affect your lymphatic systems such as post-mastectomy, it has also been shown to be very beneficial.

What Conditions May Benefit from a lymphatic massage 
Some of the conditions that lymphatic drainage massage may benefit include:

  • swollen legs or arms due to fluid retention.
  • A limb swell: pre- or post-surgery.
  • Primary or secondary Lymphoedaedema.
  • Post-mastectomy or the treatment of breast cancer.
  • Tenderness at the breast & congestion.
  • Fibromyalgia & Lupus Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Depression & Hormonal Anxiety & Cellulite Fat Accumulation of Emotional Imbalances.
  • Recurring infections such as infections with colds, flu, tonsillitis, sinus.
  • Muscular injuries
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lymphoedema
  • Oedema
  • Burns
  • Wounds/scars

Contraindications For Lymphatic Drainage

  • Absolute Contraindication:

  1. Decompensated cardiac insufficiency
  2. Cardiac edema 
  3. Congestive heart failure
  4. Acute inflammation caused by pathogenic germs (bacteria, fungi, viruses). The germs could be spread by manual lymph drainage, resulting in blood poisoning (sepsis). 
  5. Acute renal failure
  6. The condition stated above must not be treated with manual lymph drainage.

  • Relative Contraindication:

  1. Malignant lymphedema caused by active cancer

How long does a Lymphatic Massage Session last?

Depending on the condition being treated, the lymphatic massage sessions vary from 30 to 90 minutes.

What is the system Lymphatic?

The main roles of your lymphatic system are to gather excess fluid from the tissues, purify it, and return it to the bloodstream. This role is important because many substances are constantly leaking out into the surrounding tissues from the blood capillaries. 
Lymphatic system in human body

When these excess fluids are not swept by your lymphatic system, they can accumulate, cause swelling, and potentially increase the risk of infection. An effective lymphatic system helps protect your body against germs like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause illness. Fortunately, an effective lymph system works silently in the background to keep you healthy.

The lymphatic system drains the fluid to specific parts of your body such as your armpits and groin where lymph nodes are concentrated. The lymph nodes contain lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and some of these lymphocytes contain antibodies that fight off germs (including cancer cells) and prevent the spread of infection throughout the body. The good news is that lymphatic massage quickly speeds up your lymph system and its ability to fight disease and viruses, remove toxins and waste products, reduce swelling, filter lymph fluid, and your blood, resulting in better health.

Principles For Applying Lymphatic Massage

  • The skin is stretched in specific directions using hand movements to promote interstitial pressure variations without using the oils.
  • Slow repetitive movements that incorporate a resting phase allowing the skin to return to the normal position are used.
  • The pressure is varied by the underlying tissue to promote lymphatic drainage.
  • Areas of fibrosis are treated in combination with compression therapy, using deeper and firmer movements.
  • With treatments usually starting around the neck, the lymphatic drainage starts centrally and proximally.
  • First, functional and healthy lymph nodes are treated, then proximal and contralateral areas followed by ipsilateral and lymphoedematous areas.
  • In the early phases, prior to treatment of the swollen limb, the emphasis is placed on the treatment of the anterior and posterior trunk.
  • The breathing techniques used are combined with pressure from the hands of the therapist, which promotes the drainage of deep lymph nodes in the abdomen.
  • Techniques of limb mobilization and relaxation are often combined with lymphatic drainage.

Removal of waste products, particularly from an injury site, is very important. The faster this happens, the faster the healing process can start. it Reduces the swelling which is results in a reduction in pain. Oedema and swelling are common symptoms following surgery and can lead to pain and infection. Swelling and pain may be reduced through the application of lymphatic drainage to affected areas. 
Lymphatic Drainage by Physiotherapist

Surgery can also affect the lymphatic pathways' natural function which can lead to more health problems. Surgery can lead to removal or damage to the lymph nodes and lymph vessels. Lymphedema occurs when it affects the lymph nodes due to surgery or illness. Lymphedema is a swelling area that is caused by a lymph fluid build-up. The lymphatic system can not function efficiently without lymphatic nodes; therefore it can become reliant on manual lymphatic drainage to initiate lymphatic drainage.


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