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Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is the part of lymphedema treatment that patients usually refer to as "massage." The manipulation involved in MLD uses very light pressure to stimulate the lymph vessels that lie just beneath the skin. Since these vessels are small and thin, firm pressure in any one area can actually shut them down momentarily, so the gentleness of the pressure is essential.
The direction and order of MLD manipulation is as important as the gentle stroke. First the areas of the body where nodes are concentrated (neck, axilla, or groin) are stimulated in order to prepare them to receive more fluid. Then the physiotherapist begins, close to the nodes, moving fluid toward them with slow and rhythmic strokes. The massage continues with the Physio’s hands moving farther away from the cleared nodes by degrees, but always directing the fluid back toward them.
For a Physiotherapist, every patient is a new challenge. The length, condition and location of surgical scars, the amount and position of any fibrotic (hard) areas, the condition of the skin, the number and location of lymph nodes that were removed, and/or the extent of cancer treatment each individual received, is taken into account to determine the most efficient route for directing the lymph fluid.
On days when you will be having MLD, avoid using lotions or other skin lubricants after your bath or shower, since friction on the skin is important to manipulating lymph flow. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that is easy to get on and off.
When stagnant lymph fluid is successfully moved back into circulation in your body, the result is that more fluid is available to be processed by your kidneys, so you may experience an urgent need to urinate following MLD. You'll want to be sure to use the bathroom before heading for home.
Occasionally, MLD that moves a lot of fluid can result in feelings of nausea or a deep aching. It is usually a passing effect and leaves no lasting problems, but do let your Physio know if you develop any unusual symptoms so your treatment can be adjusted.
Because no one massage pattern will work for everyone, it's important to receive MLD from a well-trained and experienced therapist.
For more information about MLD or to book a consultation please contact the clinic on 0419843950