Manual lymphatic drainage therapyBy Nigel Chua
Manual lymphatic drainage therapy, or "manual lymph drainage" (MLD), refers to a very specialized form of massage that facilitates and accelerates natural lymphatic circulation through our entire body.
MLD reduces local lymph, global swelling and fluid retention problems in our bodies. MLD was conceived to treat and manage primary (direct) and secondary (indirect) lymphedema.
Lymphedema is a condition where there is local (area-specific, such as shoulder, foot, etc.) fluid retention and tissue swelling that can be caused by a compromised lymphatic system.
Our lymphatic system returns the interstitial fluid to our thoracic duct and then to the bloodstream, where it is returned to circulate back to the tissues.
Tissues that have lymphedema are at risk of infection.
MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE THERAPY IS ALSO HELPFUL FOR THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
- Venous insufficiency
- Swelling after surgery or a traumatic event/injury
- Musculoskeletal and orthopedic injuries
- Post-treatment removal of cancerous cells
- Sports injuries
- Circulatory imbalances
- Burn injuries
- RSD/Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Non-infected inflammatory conditions (e.g. joint sprains and muscle strains)
- Dermatological and skin conditions such as dry skin, eczema and psoariasis
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE
Our lymphatic system is made of
- lymphatic vessels
- lymphatic nodes
They are located almost everywhere in our body (with the exception of our brain, nails, hair and joints).
Our lymphatic system is a very important system. A healthy lymphatic system helps to maintain and boost our health and wellbeing by removing waste materials from the interstitium (a liquid that covers most cells, which provides the cells with nutrients and helps with waste removal).
The lymphatic system carries excess items such as
- waste material/byproducts
- proteins from connective tissues and cells
to and from the blood stream.
During the process of moving and carrying these, our lymph at the same time is also cleaned and filtered, like an active filter.
There are many immunity-related events that happen in our lymph nodes.
There is an estimated 500 to 600 lymph nodes in our body, and many of them cluster in the
- underarm/armpit area
If any of the lymphatic pathways become congested, stuck or injured, fluids and water will slowly build up and cause fluid retention in our body parts and tissues.
Over time, unfortunately this may lead to conditions such as fibrosis and slowly lead to breakdown in the tissues.
If there is an injury within our connective tissues, for example:
- damage from burn injuries
- long term inflammation
- post-surgical injury
- accidents such as falls or road-traffic/motor-vehicle accidents
then our lymphatic system will be tasked with transporting the damaged structures and cellular byproducts away from the injury site.
The faster this happens, the faster the swelling, pain and injury will be cleared. This indicates that you can recover faster with a healthy lymphatic system.
Consistent manual lymphatic drainage massage therapy can help provide good outcomes following injuries and inflammation.