What is lymphedema massage?

Lymphedema massage, better known as manual lymphatic drainage, is a special type of massage that uses gentle strokes which are believed to encourage natural circulation of the lymph throughout the body.

Started by Dr. Emil Vodder in the 1930s, this type of massage used to be one of the methods for treating chronic sinusitis and other forms of immune disorders. These days, manual lymphatic drainage is famous for managing lymphedema, a condition characterized by swelling in the arms or legs as a result of blockage in the lymphatic system.

How does lymphedema massage work?

Lymphedema massage is typically done by therapists who are specifically trained for this kind of massage. The rhythmic and gentle strokes on the skin are believed to stimulate the lymph nodes, opening and draining them.

Manual lymphatic drainage is not your usual massage as it uses light and repetitive skin stretching movements. For the massage to become effective in lymph node filtration and decongestion, certified manual lymphatic drainage therapists are specific when it comes to skin stretching direction and sequence.

When done correctly, manual lymphatic drainage can be an effective way of managing lymphedema. As long as major contraindications are ruled out, this lymphedema massage can be a gentle and noninvasive way of reducing the swelling.

Aside from stimulating the lymph flow, manual lymphatic drainage is also shown to be effective in increasing detoxification rate as it speeds up the interstitial fluid’s filtering process.

What are the major contraindications?

Manual lymphatic drainage is not for everyone. It is contraindicated in people who have congestive heart failure, active blood clots, undiagnosed cancer, acute renal failure, and active bleeding.

What goes well with lymphedema massage?

For best results, patients with lymphedema are recommended to top off lymphedema massage with compression therapy (the use of compression stockings or sleeves) and lifestyle changes which include weight control, healthy diet, and regular physical activity.

Image: Cristian Newman via Unsplash

0 Items