What exactly is lymphatic drainage?
Lymphatic drainage is a sort of medical massage that is specialized and delicate. It could be part of your lymphoedema treatment. The goal is to shift the lymph fluid away from the swollen location to drain regularly. It also aids in the drainage of lymph fluid through healthy lymph arteries—this aids in edema control.
Lymphatic drainage is classified into two types:
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is also known as simple lymphatic drainage (SLD).
A certified lymphatic drainage therapist should only perform MLD. It is a brief course of therapy.
SLD is something that can be taught to you. This is something you can do indefinitely.
Other types of massage should not be performed on the afflicted area.
Lymphatic drainage by hand (MLD)
MLD can be performed using a variety of ways. They’re all similar, yet they use distinct massage techniques. Your therapist will tell you more about the method they use and what it entails—breathing practices are also an essential component of MLD (we have information about this below).
MLD is frequently used in conjunction with compression clothing or bandaging to reduce swelling. However, MLD can be especially beneficial in locations where compression therapy is difficult to use.
MLD is frequently given in short courses at NHS lymphoedema treatment clinics. It is not, however, available at all locations. If you’re having trouble finding a certified MLD therapist, contact Manual Lymphatic Drainage UK. Alternatively, the British Lymphology Society provides a directory on its website that you might find helpful.
MLD is typically taken daily at first, then twice or three times a week. The course length might vary, and it is sometimes combined with other treatments. Your therapist will lead you through some breathing exercises before and after MLD.
Typically, you will lie down. Some of your clothing may need to be removed. Your therapist will begin by treating the lymph nodes that are not impacted. They will apply some pressure and move slowly and steadily. Your therapist may ask you to do some easy exercises to help the lymph drain during the treatment.
Your therapist will show you how to conduct a simple version of MLD at home to help keep the swelling down between appointments. Simple lymphatic drainage is a sort of self-massage (SLD).
If you have an infection (cellulitis) in the swollen area, you will not have MLD. It is also not available if you have specific medical issues, such as heart disease.
Lymphatic drainage is simple (SLD)
As part of your lymphedema treatment, your lymphoedema specialist may recommend simple lymphatic drainage (SLD). This is a condensed form of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD).
Before you begin, it is critical that you learn these procedures from a lymphoedema professional. They will demonstrate how to massage the areas of your body where you do not have lymphoedema. This creates some space for the fluid to drain from the enlarged size. Typically, the swollen area is not massaged. They can also demonstrate how to do it to a friend or relative.
Your lymphoedema specialist will show you how to perform the massage and the appropriate amount of pressure to utilize. This will be determined by your specific circumstances.
The goal of this massage is to enhance lymph fluid flow in healthy lymph arteries. Excess fluid from the enlarged area might drain more freely once the vessels have been cleansed.
It is best to select a time and location where you can calmly conduct SLD. This could be somewhere where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Before you begin, make sure you have everything you need and that you are in a comfortable position. Remember to start with your deep breathing exercises.
The massage is performed without the use of any oils or creams. You use your hand to manipulate the skin in a specific direction very softly. Always move the skin in the opposite direction of the swelling. If your skin is sticky and your hand does not move freely, you could use talcum powder. If your skin turns red after you’ve finished, the movement is too intense.
The Lymphoedema Support Network provides information on lymphedema and SLD self-management.
Massagers for the hands
Hand-held massagers may be helpful for persons who have limited hand movement. Before purchasing one, consult with your lymphedema specialist. Some folks feel that using a soft-bristled baby brush as a massager is beneficial.
Exercising your deep breathing
Breathing exercises can assist lymphatic drainage before and after MLD and SLD massage. Use the easy movement below:
Sit up straight in a comfy chair or lie down on your bed with your knees slightly bent.
Place your hands on your ribcage and relax.
To relax, take calm, deep breaths.
Move the air down to your tummy as you breathe in (abdomen). Your belly will rise beneath your palms.
Exhale slowly by sighing the air out. Allow your abdomen to relax inwards again as you exhale.
Five times through, do the deep breathing practice.
To avoid feeling dizzy, take a short break before standing up.