What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of protein rich fluid often leading to swelling of a specific body part. The cause of Lymphedema can be hereditary or a defect in the Lymphatic system (primary) or caused by injury or surgery (secondary). Secondary Lymphedema is often associated with breast or prostate cancer, but can follow any surgery , injury or infection. Secondary Lymphedema can be triggered by scars, infection, injury, medications, inactivity, airline travel and a parasite caused by a mosquito bite infected with the Filaria parasite.
Symptoms of Lymphedema
Symptoms of Lymphedema may be immediate or occur several years after surgery or injury. Symptoms may include a sensation of fullness and or tightness, decreased flexibility and mobility. Other symptoms can include fatigue numbness, hard thickening skin, pain, aching and weight gain without increased caloric intake.
Treatment for Lymphedema
"Complete Decongestive Therapy" is a two phase process. In phase one, Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is used to reduce the edema in the affected area. Compression is also used. Once edema is reduced the client is fitted with a compression garment. Phase two requires client compliance wearing the garment and following a regimen of self care which includes skin care and self MLD daily.
What is Manual Lymph Drainage?
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a gentle technique used to help increase lymph flow. it is used for chronic pain management, scar tissue, stress, swelling and lymphedema.
Who benefits from Manual Lymph Drainage? Most people can gain benefit. There are many health problems resulting from a congested and stagnant lymphatic system. Here is partial list of conditions which may improve with increased lymph flow: arthritis, lymphedema, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sinus problems, chronic pain, frequent colds or flu, congested lungs, edema, toxin accumulation, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, neuropathy, neck & shoulder stiffness, skin disorders and stress.
MLD promotes healing of tissue and fractures, torn ligaments, sprains and lessens the pain, promotes healing of wounds and burns and improves the appearance of old scars minimizes or reduces stretch marks. Lymphatic drainage massage can help to stimulate the immune system and metabolism for healthy weight loss. The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in the body's ability to heal from injury and to ward off disease.
The purpose of lymph drainage massage is to mechanically move fluid through the body's tissues, removing waste materials and infectious microorganisms, and pushing that fluid through lymph nodes which clean lymph fluid and return it to the vascular system. Your lymphatic system is your primary defense against bacteria, viruses and fungus.
For the most part lymphatic drainage massage is safe. However as with all massage therapies there are some contraindications. For lymphatic massage specifically, these include infection, acute inflammation, malignant tumors, thrombosis and major heart problems.