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What is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage or MLD is a gentle, progressive, skin stretch technique which is used to stimulate the lymphatic system. It increases the rate at which lymphatic fluid is moved or removed through an area. MLD is different to massage as the therapist uses a very light pressure movement, with slow, rhythmic strokes.

MLD is used to assist with the movement of fluid in congested areas by bypassing ineffective lymph vessels and encouraging drainage through new pathways.

So, what is the lymphatic system?  – (it is part of your immune system)

Your lymphatic system is the body’s drainage system, comprising of; lymphatic vessels, nodes, specific organs and lymph fluid.  One of the main functions of the lymphatic system involves the disposal of ‘waste products and cellular debris’ from connective tissue spaces.

The lymphatic system circulates white blood cells around the body, removes proteins and fatty substances and assists in maintaining blood volume.

Just as the heart continuously pumps blood through the blood vessels, the lymphatic system works under low pressure, relying on a series of valves and muscle contractions to propel fluid in one direction (from the small vessels in the arms and legs, to larger vessels in the abdomen and heart).

The blood and lymphatic system work in unison to keep fluid levels in the tissues stable. Swelling will result if either system is not working properly. Health conditions can interrupt the normal flow of lymph, causing fluid to build up often in the arms or legs. Therefore, it is important for undiagnosed swelling to be assessed and treated.

Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage:

  • Increased movement of fluid from interstitial spaces through the lymphatic vessel and back to the large blood vessels.
  • Promotes increases in lymphatic vessel pumping
  • Has a relaxation effect on the muscles (parasympathetic response).
  • Reduced swelling
  • Reduction in pain associated with swelling and joint inflammation
  • Can assist with swelling after surgery or injury. It is also recommended as a pre-operative treatment to joint replacement surgery

How do I know if my lymphatic system isn’t working properly?

  • A body area feeling uncomfortable or tight, such as an arm or leg
  • General feelings of heaviness
  • Swelling to a part of the body
  • Jewellery and clothing may suddenly feel tighter

What conditions can MLD assist with:

  • Lymphoedema
  • Lipedema
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Acute and chronic inflammatory conditions (eg, arthritis, sprains and sinusitis)
  • Skin Trauma
  • Acne
  • Stress
  • Digestive problems
  • Pre and Post-operative oedema (eg, cosmetic & joint replacement)

Who should NOT have MLD?

  • Those with congestive heart failure
  • Thrombosis
  • Kidney problems/ renal failure or liver disease
  • Acute inflammation with infections
  • Active malignant disease
  • Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure

If you have any medical condition or undiagnosed oedema, you should speak with your health provider or consulting specialist prior to having lymphatic drainage massage.

Our Lymphatic Drainage Therapist:

Ruth Hodson– our massage therapist and resident lymphoedema specialist, is a certified Vodder trained CDT therapist. She has extensive knowledge and training in the treatment of lymphoedema, MLD, and offers a variety of services including;

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage
  • Self-management guidance, education and skincare advice
  • Advice and assistance with compression bandaging, garments and wraps
  • Assistance with garment prescription and referral for garment supply
  • Exercise to stimulate lymphatic transport capacity
  • Intermittent pneumatic compression pump therapy
  • Low level laser therapy
  • Lymph taping

Here at the clinic, our therapists can assist with rehabilitation, therapeutic exercise and physical activity programs (including hydrotherapy). Our trained Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologist will work together with Ruth to achieve the best possible outcomes for you.