Just had surgery? Feeling swollen and sore? Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (LDT) can provide tremendous relief!
LDT is a deeply relaxing massage that is useful for relieving chronic and subacute inflammations. While it is most commonly used in the treatment of cancer-related lymphedema (swelling from fluid retention), it also has many other applications. For instance, it helps to remove toxins from the body and can be a valuable addition to a detoxification protocol (i.e., patients undergoing treatment for heavy metal or mold toxicity). It also can relieve post-surgical edema, remove residual anesthesia from the body, and alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms.
Very briefly, the lymphatic system is a complex network of lymph vessels and organs that circulates lymph fluid and specialized cells throughout the body for the purpose of destroying pathogens and filtering waste so it can be eliminated from the body. The lymph system also supports the immune system by delivering nutrients, oxygen, and hormones from the blood to cells throughout the body.
Serious illness can compromise the effectiveness of the lymphatic system, which in turn can obstruct the proper functioning of lymph vessels and lead to an accumulation of lymph fluid. For example, surgery, muscle tightness, shallow breathing and lack of exercise, can lead to edema, inflammation, chronic pain, and an impaired immune system. The good news is that lymph drainage therapy or manual lymph drainage (MLD), as it is sometimes called, can alleviate the symptoms of lymphatic system dysfunction and help your body to work at its optimal level.
In lymph-drainage therapy, a practitioner very gently massages a client’s skin surface to detect and redirect lymph flow and facilitate proper drainage of excess fluid.
As noted above, LDT or MLD has been found to be beneficial for many conditions, including:
- Lymphedema (swelling in the limbs due to obstruction in the vessels and accumulation of lymph fluid) caused by cancer, radiation therapy, infection or surgical removal of the lymph nodes. A recent study indicates that providing lymph-drainage therapy to breast cancer patients before any signs of swelling are detected reduces the risk of developing lymphedema.
- Post-surgery edema. Surgery often causes inflammation in the body that can be relieved through Lymph Drainage Therapy.
- Post-surgery removal of anesthesia. LDT aids the lymphatic system in quickly expelling anesthesia from the body after surgery.
- Chronic or sub-acute inflammation or swelling due to other conditions.. LDT can provide pain relief for individuals suffering from inflammatory pain associated with Muscular Sclerosis, arthritis, and musculoskeletal injuries, including broken bones and sprained joints.
- Chronic pain and anxiety. LDT has a calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn can help reduce chronic pain and decrease emotional stress and anxiety. LDT has even been shown to provide anxiety-relieving benefits for otherwise healthy patients!
- Fibromyalgia. After receiving lymph drainage therapy, fibromyalgia patients reported lower pain intensity, a lower pain-pressure threshold, less morning tiredness, less anxiety and an improvement in their overall quality of life.
- Heavy-metal or mold toxicity. Incorporating LDT into a patient’s treatment program can assist the lymphatic system in removing toxins from the body.
– Linda Glick, C.M.T., Gary Kaplan, D.O.
Effectiveness of early physiotherapy to prevent lymphoedema after surgery for breast cancer: randomised, single blinded, clinical trial. Lacomba M, et al. BMJ 340:b5396, 2010
Effects of manual lymph drainage on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. Kim S, Kwon O, Yi C. International Journal of Neuroscience 119(8):1105-17, 2009
Comparison of manual lymph drainage therapy and connective tissue massage in women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Ekici G, Bakar Y, Akbayrak T, Yuksel I. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Feb;32(2):127-33.Print this page