Lymphatic Drainage: What Is It?
Your lymphatic system aids in the removal of waste from your body. A healthy, functioning lymphatic system accomplishes this through the inherent movements of smooth muscle tissue.
Lymphedema, a condition where fluid builds up in your lymph system and lymph nodes as a result of surgery, illnesses, or other harm, is another possibility. Your doctor might have recommended Lymphatic Drainage Massage provided by a licenced massage or physical therapist if you’ve ever had surgery on or involving your lymph nodes. However,
For those who have the following conditions, lymphatic massage is not advised:
- Enlarged Heart Failure
- Stroke Or Blood Clot History
- Currently Contagious
- Liver Issues
- Kidney Issues
Lymphedema is a side effect of procedures that alter or remove your lymph nodes.
Only in the vicinity of a surgical site will lymphedema manifest itself.
For instance, only your left arm, not your right, may experience lymphedema if lymph nodes were removed as part of surgery to treat cancer in your left breast.
Additionally, injuries or illnesses like congestive heart failure (CHF) or blood clots in the body can cause lymphedema.
Lymphatic massage, which applies light pressure, can aid in removing waste fluids from the injured area. It’s one method for lowering lymphedema.
Physical therapist and certified lymphedema specialist Raakhee Patel, PT, DPT, CLT, teaches patients how to massage their own lymph nodes after surgery.
According to Patel, we don’t talk about lymphedema enough. The uncomfortable effects of fluid accumulation include pain and heaviness in the affected area. Furthermore, Stage 3 lymphedema can be “devastating,” causing severe depression and immobility that could make recovery more difficult, according to Patel.
It’s crucial to massage more than just the affected area when giving a lymphatic massage. Except for the head, the right side of the chest, and the right arm, the entire body’s lymphatic system drains close to the left shoulder. Therefore, for proper drainage, a massage should cover all of the body.
Reabsorption And Clearing
Clearing and reabsorption are the two phases of the lymphatic massage that Patel teaches. The clearing is done to prepare the area for bringing in more fluid and produce a flushing effect by gently creating a vacuum.
- Location of the supraclavicular lymph node: directly below the collarbone
- The axillary lymph node is under the arms.
- Within the elbows
Up to ten clearing motions can be performed each day. Always massage both sides of your body, not just the side with lymphedema, advises Patel.
A Manual For Clearing
Clearing happens in three stages. In that order, make sure to clear the supraclavicular, axillary, and inner elbow areas.
- To make the supraclavicular region clear:
- On a comfortable flat surface, start by lying down.
- Put your hands just below the collarbones as you cross your arms over your chest.
Then slowly raise your elbows. As much pressure as is necessary to get the area ready for lymphatic fluid flushing comes from the muscle action.
Clear the axillary region next:
- Stack one hand on top of the other.
- Gently scoop the underarm region from top to bottom with your other hand. The only pressure needed is mild enough to move the skin’s surface.
Clear out the space inside the elbows last:
- Place your arm at your side, straight.
- One inch at a time gently pulls the skin inside the elbow using the fingers of your opposing hand.
Only very light pressure is necessary. According to Patel, lymphatic massage only affects the surface layer of the skin. The fluid is confined there.
How To Give Yourself A Leg Lymphatic Massage
Lymphatic massage for the legs aims to open lymphatic vessels so that extra fluid can flow back up into the groyne lymph nodes.
Lymphatic massage on the legs can be done using a variety of methods, but they all aim to release the fluid so that it can return up through the lymph nodes.
You can perform a lymphatic massage on your legs by doing the following:
- Before starting on the legs, give your upper body a lymphatic massage. Follow the three stages of clearing in the axilla, inner elbow, and supraclavicular areas in that order. By doing this, the system is made clear for fluid to drain up.
- Apply gentle pressure. You’re pressing too hard if you can feel the muscles beneath your skin.
- Start massaging your legs at the topmost point that is farthest from the wound or affected area, and work your way down. If your ankle is swollen, for instance, start the massage on the upper leg.
- Place one hand on the inside of the leg and the other on the back of the leg, beginning at the top of the leg.
- Stretch the skin on the inside of your leg up and out toward your hip using light pressure.
- Till you reach the knee, keep performing this motion down the leg.
- Stretch the skin up toward your armpit with alternate hands once you’ve gotten to the knee.
- Ten to fifteen times.
The lymphatic massage’s clearing phase has now been finished.
A Manual For Absorption
Reabsorption is the second phase of lymphatic massage. To carry out this massage stage:
- Start at the area of the body that is affected and is furthest from the body’s centre. For instance, if you have lymphedema in your hand, arm, or shoulder, start at the tips of the fingers.
- Massage from fingertip to hand, from hand to elbow, and from elbow to shoulder, applying just enough pressure to move the skin’s surface.
The hardest part of self-care, particularly for women who are so accustomed to taking care of others, is patient compliance, according to Patel.
People should allow at least 20 minutes each day for lymphatic drainage massage, according to her advice. “Use the clearing stage of massage if you only have a little time.”
You’ll use a pumping motion behind the knee to start reabsorption on the legs:
- Your knees should be covered by both hands.
- Rolling up and down, pump the back of the knee 10 to 15 times.
The lower legs can now be massaged since your knee is prepared to absorb fluid from the lower leg:
- Place one hand behind the leg and the other on top of the shin.
- The skin should first be stretched upward before being released.
- Go down further, toward the ankle region.
- Always stroking up, repeat down through the ankle and feet.
- Finish the massage by using your fingers to gently push the fluid in your toes upward.
How can you tell if a lymphatic drainage massage works? This is a maintenance method, according to Patel. If you regularly perform lymphatic massage, your lymphedema shouldn’t worsen.
Drink water as well. Tissue that is properly hydrate aids in the removal of waste.
Other Options For Treating Your Lymphedema Include:
- Utilizing a compression sleeve to stop the fluid accumulation
- Obtaining an office drainage massage from a licenced therapist
Find out as much as you can about a therapist’s education before hiring them. Don’t assume you can just go to a massage therapist because massage is very beneficial for you but deep tissue massage can be too heavy for someone with lymphedema.
Look for a physical or massage therapist with oncology and pathology training who is a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT).