Manual lymphatic drainage is an advanced and very specialised massage-based therapy. It is typically used when a patient is suffering with issues related to a reduced function of the lymphatic system.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a complicated network of organs and tissues that play a crucial role in helping rid the body of waste, toxins and other unwanted substances.
The lymphatic system covers the whole body – your spleen, tonsils, adenoids and thymus are all part of the system.
It is the most underrated part of the circulatory system but plays a crucial role in preventing sickness and helping to keep us healthy.
What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is an advanced physical therapy. The therapist uses a range of specialised, gentle rhythmic pumping massage techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow.
The heart pumps the blood around the body, whereas the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, it relies on your muscle movement to open and close valves in order to move the lymph.
This targeted, directional manual intervention assists and stimulates the lymphatic system to remove waste products, excess fluid, toxins and bacteria.
MLD has numerous applications. The effects are preventative, remedial and deeply relaxing.
What conditions can MLD help with?
MLD and Lymphoedema
Lymphoedema is a swelling that can affect any part of the body, but is most often seen in the arms and legs.
It is caused by the reduced function of the lymphatic system. This reduced function may be caused by disease, injury, surgical intervention or congenital disorders. Whatever the cause of the dysfunction, the resulting effect leads to a build-up of fluid, proteins, and other toxins. When left untreated, these unwanted substances can cause changes in the skin and surrounding tissues, and an increased risk of infection (cellulitis).
The aim of MLD is to re-route any build-up of lymph fluid to the nearest healthy lymph nodes.
MLD is an effective way of managing lymphoedema. It may be advisable to commit to an intensive program, which would involve regular MLD and CDT (Complete Decongestive Therapy consisting of; MLD, multi-layered bandaging, exercise and skin and nail care instructions, and a compression garment once the intensive phase is over).
MLD and Surgery (including Cosmetic Surgery) – Post-operative MLD
Swelling, bruising and pain are very common after-effects of surgery. Sometimes the healing period takes so long that patients become homebound for weeks.
MLD stimulates the lymphatic system and helps open up the lymphatic channels, encouraging the fluid to flow through its pathways; this aids the elimination of excess fluid from the swollen tissues, therefore relieving pain and speeding up the healing process.
MLD is a light and repetitive massage-type technique, which can relieve pain, help improve mobility, promote healing of wounds and reduce the appearance of scars.
Other conditions that Manual Lymphatic Drainage can help with:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- ME / CFS
- Bell’s Palsy
- Pain Control
- Sports Injuries
- Post-Dental Work
- Palliative Care
- Reduces post-operative bruising and swelling
- Promotes healing of wounds and improves appearance of scars
- Follow-up treatment to deep tissue work
- Suitable during pregnancy
- Relieves fluid congestion: due to pre-menstrual syndrome, painful breasts, swollen ankles & legs, tired puffy eyes.
- Relieves stress symptoms by calming the central nervous system
- May strengthen the immune system and help with general detoxification
Can MLD help you?
Our MLD Specialist, Amanda Morris is highly trained and very experienced. She has internationally recognised training, and has worked at St Georges Hospial, London as well as various private clinics in the south east and south west of England.
She has vast experience in her field, and is qualified in Coban-2 compression bandaging, and is able to measure for hosiery and order compression garments too.
MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE – THE EVIDENCE
There is lots of information online supporting the effectiveness of MLD and CDT. Should you be interested, the following link would be a good place to start
1. J Man Manip Ther. 2009 Systematic Review of Efficacy for Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Practice Approach Giampietro L Vairo, MS, ATC, ACI,a,∗ Sayers John Miller, PhD, PT, ATC,b Nicole M McBrier, PhD, ATC,c and William E Buckley, PhD, MBA, ATCd