Manual lymph drainage is the activation of the lymphatic system and unblocking (drainage) of tissue through specific physiotherapy techniques.
Manual Lymph Drainage is mainly used in the following situations:
- Decongestion therapy following the treatment of a tumour or removal of lymph node(s)
- Decongestion therapy following an operation
- All kinds of orthopaedic and traumatological conditions which are accompanied by a swelling (e.g. sprains, dislocation, pulled or torn muscles,)
- Sudeck’s Disease / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
The lymphatic system has an important role in the removal of tissue fluid. The lymphatic fluid is filtered and cleaned with the help of approx. 800 lymph nodes. Bacteria, metabolic products and contaminants are caught and destroyed by phagocytes, or so-called “scavenger cells”, before lymphs get into the bloodstream. Tissue fluid also flows via the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. Manual lymph drainage is quite simply a form of “decongestion”, which uses gentle, circular movements and massage to improve lympatic fluid and venal blood flow to remove an excess or blockage of fluid (oedema). Through massage of the tissue, the fluid which has collected there can flow back into the bloodstream and be excreted via the kidneys which means that decongestion has a diuretic effect. Lymph drainage is performed using gentle, circular movements, rather than the firm grips and movements of classic massage.
A blockage of the lymphatic system (oedema) can be caused by infection, operations (removal of lymph nodes), radiotherapy or tumours (malignant growths). A weakness in the veins is also possible, when too much lymph is secreted from the vessels and too little transported back from the veins.
In more severe cases of lymphatic disease (congestion), treatment can be combined with compression dressings (bandages or specially customized compression stockings), skin care or special exercise therapy. This kind of treatment is known as Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT).
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