Manual Lymphatic Drainage

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Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage is an effective technique to reduce the side effects from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Side effects include, scars, tightness, restricted mobility, pain, swelling, and tenderness.

What happens when a part of the body gets swollen?

Imagine a person stuck in the freeway. The freeway is the lymphatic system. If there is not a way to exit, the traffic will continue getting worse. The traffic is the lymphatic fluid accumulating gradually without a place to go. What happened on the freeway? A car broke down. This car will be a removal of a lymph node in the armpit or a recent surgery. Finally, a police officer comes and reroutes the traffic and everything starts flowing. The police who make things smoother in the freeway will be the physical therapist who applies manual lymphatic drainage rerouting the excess of lymph flow to more fluid destinations.

What happens after lymph nodes are removed in breast cancer?

Imagine that the lymph nodes are a group of people working at a big corporation. The big corporation is the lymphatic system. One day, a few of the employees got sick and didn't come back to work. The rest of employees start working double shifts and extra hours for the lymphatic system to compensate for the absence of the sick employees. These employees get tired and overwhelmed. They are unable to do all the jobs and the excess work starts accumulating day after day.

The same happens when some lymph nodes are removed. The other lymph nodes start working harder for their lymphatic system, but still, they are unable to do it all. Excess of fluid starts accumulating and swelling occurs.

What is manual lymphatic drainage?

Manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle technique that removes and re-route excess of lymphatic fluid around blocked areas into healthy areas.

Is manual lymphatic drainage a massage?

Manual lymphatic drainage is not a massage. It is a skillful manual therapy with light pressure, slow and repetitive movements to activate the lymph vessels in healthy areas to help them to accept fluids from congested areas.

Lymphatic system and Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage uses the lymphatic system to clean and remove waste products from the body, including bacteria, virus, and toxins by regulating the lymphatic fluids in the body.

What are the benefits of manual lymphatic drainage?

  • Soothing and Relaxing
  • Analgesic
  • Promote Healing
  • Reduce Swelling
  • Promote Wound Healing
  • Decrease Bruising
  • Stimulate the Lymphatic Drainage
  • Pain Relief
  • Local sympathetic response
  • General parasympathetic effect
  • Reverse lymph flow
  • Remove waste products
  • Reroute lymph fluid

Conditions treated with manual lymphatic drainage

  • Postoperative swelling after cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentation, liposuction, or face and neck lift.
  • Lymph nodes removed and radiation in breast Cancer.
  • Pregnancy (Swollen legs).
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Digestive disorder and constipation.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Contraindication for Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Cardiac Edema
  • Acute Bronchitis
  • Acute Infection
  • Acute deep vein thrombosis
  • Renal Failure

Tips to improve lymphatic drainage

Deep abdominal breathing improves lymph fluid return, minimizes the lymph fluid congestion or blockage in the affected area, relieves stress, reduces pain, and calms the mind.

Back stretches everyone should do to improve return of the lymphatic flow to healthy areas, improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and back stiffness.

If you are dealing with breast cancer, scars, tightness, restricted mobility, pain, swelling, and tenderness, talk with Dr. Alexandra Chaux, your physical Therapist at Chaux Physical Therapy: (805)203-9940 . Doctor Chaux can help you with your recovery and body function.

The information in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only, its content is provided based upon evidence-based physical therapy research, knowledge, and experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).