Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a form of massage therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system relies on muscle movement and interstitial pressure to move lymphatic fluid. It does not have its own pump.
Imagine a drain with no incline to move the water; the water needs a force, such as a squeegee, to move the water towards the drain. When you are injured, lymphatic fluid pools around the injured area because of your lack of movement, the fluid needs help to move. MLD is the squeegee helping the fluid to move towards the drain, or the lymph nodes.
Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage for me? The answer is yes if you have any of the following things:
Injury – Did you sprain your ankle or twist your knee? Manual lymphatic drainage will slowly and effectively move the lymphatic fluid so that the swelling will decrease drastically. It is a natural way of helping your body to accelerate its healing.
Upcoming surgery – In Germany and other European countries MLD is a required part of the protocol for treatment prior to and after surgery. Receiving one or more MLD treatments before surgery will prime your system. It will clear your lymph node beds of any lingering cellular debris and stimulate the lymph capillaries so that your system is running at 100%. After surgery, your lymphatic system can get overloaded with the natural response of your body healing itself. Your body can easily handle a normal lymphatic load, but surgery creates a dramatic increase in the amount of lymphatic fluid that is processed naturally through your system. MLD is a gentle and effective way of helping your lymphatic system cope with the overflow. The difference after MLD is visibly noticeable. You will see the swelling go down.
Chronic swelling in one or more extremities – You may have lymphedema. There are two types of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema, which means you were born with a condition that hinders your lymphatic system; and secondary lymphedema which means your lymphatic system was hindered because of an outside source. Often times radiation therapy to treat cancer or breast cancer removal surgery can cause secondary lymphedema. Unfortunately, once you have lymphedema you will have to manage the swelling for the rest of your life. I can help with that! Initially when you come in we will discuss a treatment plan and long term care. For the first two to three weeks of treatment, expect to come in three to four times a week. We will do MLD and use compression bandages to keep the lymphatic fluid from re-pooling in your extremity. Once we have reduced the swelling considerably, we will talk about long term care and get you fitted for compression garments. After that you will only need to come in sporadically to make sure that the compression garments are still the right size or for an additional MLD session.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage can greatly accelerate healing post-surgery by helping with:
- Bruising reduction. Cells transported by the lymph system are moved away 10 times faster with MLD, so bruises heal in a fraction of the time.
- Edema (swelling) reduction. MLD re-routes lymph fluid to collateral and viable pathways untouched by surgery to allow for accelerated drainage, as opposed to the slow trickle of tissue fluids in the operative site.
- Pain management. As pressure of lymph fluid decreases around nerves, pain and discomfort are relieved and require less pain medication.
- Scar-tissue prevention and fibrosis reduction.
- Infection prevention. Post-surgical MLD is important when considering that stagnating lymph fluid can become infectious material and warrant artificial drain insertion-which is painful, costly and time consuming.
Manual lymph drainage is effective for all types of congestion, swelling, edema and detoxification. It has also been shown to accelerate healing post-surgery.