What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?
Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a specialised form of massage which uses light, rhythmical, very precise hand movements retraining the lymph fluids to flow faster and efficiently from swollen areas.
MLD is an effective way to greatly minimise side effects from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The side effects of treatment include soft tissue fibrosis, scar tissue fibrosis, oedema, reduced joint range of motion, slowed healing and pain.
What are the benefits of MLD?
The massage works with the skin to influence the direction and speed of venous and lymphatic flow. In damaged lymph nodes, MLD redirects the lymphatic flow to the good functioning lymph nodes helping in decongesting body tissues. The lymphatic system interacts with the urinary and venous system getting rid of toxic materials (lymph obligatory load) from the body.
MLD uses the lymphatic system to cleanse the body, reduce and ease swelling and strengthen the immune system by stimulating the flow of lymph.
What is Lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is an accumulation of fluid in the interstitial space (fluid filled areas that surround the cells of a given tissue). This is caused by a damaged lymphatic vessel system unable to ensure adequate drainage of fluid resulting in congestion.
Following the removal of lymph nodes and radiation therapy, secondary lymphoedema or swelling of the arm or leg affects about 25% of cancer patients.
What are the treatment options for secondary Lymphoedema?
MLD therapists treat lymphoedema using Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT); an intensive treatment that combines Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Deep Oscillation Therapy, compression garments, exercise and skin care. The therapist uses a range of specialised and gentle rhythmic pumping techniques or the Deep Oscillation device heads to move the excess fluid into an area with a working lymph vessel system. This stimulates the lymphatic vessels and helps move excess fluid away from the swollen area so that it can drain away normally.
The MLD treatment is followed by the fitting of compression garments, to reduce limb size. The therapist will also discuss how to minimise the risk of infection by washing and moisturising the skin and the importance of regular gentle exercise to encourage efficient lymph flow.
Included or instead of the MLD your practitioner may choose to use Deep Oscillation therapy which has been proven to provide superior results.
What are the benefits of MLD
Clinically proven effects and benefits are:
- Anti- Fibrotic, Anti- Inflammatory, Detoxifying effect
- Improvement of muscle tone, mobility, tissue quality, and trophicity
- Reduction in bruising, seroma, haematoma, oedema, pain, skin irritation and scarring
- Relaxation of muscles and stimulation of a dynamic wound healing.