How MLD Can Help
Manual Lymphatic Drainage benefits conditions such as:
Lymphoedema (Primary and Secondary)
Lymphoedema is a condition affecting the lymphatic system in which the normal transportation of lymph (a straw-coloured fluid that travels throughout the body in a complex network of lymphatic vessels) becomes impaired due to damage or destruction of the lymph nodes. When this happens, lymph is unable to move freely and gathers in the tissue at various points around the body. Usually, lymphoedema affects the limbs but it can occur in other parts of the body too.
When lymphoedema is left untreated the resulting swelling can be very painful, it can impair mobility and brings a risk of infection and fibrosis to the affected area. However, with early treatment, it is a manageable condition.
There are two types of lymphoedema:
Primary lymphoedema is an inherited type of lymphoedema. It occurs most often in women but can affect men too, and often on just one side of the body. In some cases, it can develop from birth, but more commonly it is developed in young adulthood or sometimes later in life. It can be triggered by major stress, illness or hormonal changes.
Secondary lymphoedema arises as a result of trauma to the lymphatic system.
It can occur as a side-effect of cancer treatment, where radiation damages the lymph nodes or lymph nodes are surgically removed. It can also occur as a result of an infection or disease which caused inflammation or damage to the lymphatic system.
MLD and Cancer
During treatment for cancer it may be necessary to surgically remove one or more lymph nodes in order to examine the lymph nodes for the presence of cancer cells, or to remove lymph nodes which have been found to contain cancer cells. Lymph nodes may also be damaged by radiotherapy.
For example, in the case of breast cancer, lymph nodes in the axilla (or underarm) may be effected. When these nodes are removed, the lymphatic fluid that would normally flow through them and be filtered by them, now finds itself without a clear pathway to follow. The fluid then leaves the lymphatic vessels and sits in the tissue surrounding that area. The fluid can build up over time, if untreated. This build-up leads to oedema/lymphoedema (or swelling) in the hand, the arm or even the chest.
MLD is a gentle, light-touch technique whereby a specifically trained therapist moves and stretches the skin to encourage the movement of fluid to another drainage area that is functioning normally. Over time, with regular MLD sessions and/or body brushing that can be performed at home, the body learns to bring fluid along this new pathway to deal with the absence of lymph nodes in the effected drainage area.
So, seeking MLD treatment and advice on home-care techniques as soon as possible can give you greater control, and delay the onset of lymphoedema for as long as possible.
Many health insurance providers cover some of the cost of MLD treatment for patients who have received cancer treatment, provided that the therapist is a registered member of MLD Ireland Association. For example, VHI cover €50 per session x 10 sessions, and this can be claimed back after the 10 sessions have been completed. The cost of compression garments may also be covered in full by some providers. It’s advisable to contact your insurance provider to find out exactly what’s covered and how to make a claim.
Skin conditions, such as Eczema and Acne
You may find it surprising that MLD is a treatment recommended for skin conditions, such as eczema and acne.
The lymphatic system affects our whole body, including our skin – and when it doesn’t work optimally complications can occur. MLD treats and reduces the inflammation which often causes the most discomfort.
Unlike topical approaches to acne treatment, MLD can also treat the root cause of the acne, as it improves circulation, can help balance hormones, and cleanses the body. By stimulating the lymphatic system through MLD, hormones and toxins which can cause inflammation begin to flow freely, minimising congestion and providing optimal conditions for healthy skin. In this way, MLD can not only reduce the symptoms of acne and eczema, but it can also help impede the reoccurrence of inflammation.
MLD is an effective treatment both before and after surgery which helps speed up the healing process. As a pre-surgery treatment, MLD prepares the lymphatic system for surgery by ensuring that the lymph is flowing effectively and softening any tissue that may have hardened.
After surgery, MLD is also recommended to reduce pain, swelling and bruising and to encourage faster healing in the wound area, so that you can get back to your life as quickly and painlessly as possible.
It also reduces the risk of complications from surgery, including the formation of scar tissue and fibrosis, an uneven hardening under the skin, and so is recommended by cosmetic surgeons after liposuction, for example.
Sinusitis and congestion
While some people may experience a sinus flare-up on a rare occasion, for some, it is an on-going problem which is very painful and debilitating. However, you don’t need to put up with sinus pain. MLD is an effective treatment which stimulates the lymphatics in the areas around the nose and ears, helping to clear congestion and reducing the occurrence of infections which can result in severe pain.
Manual Lymph Drainage is also effective in treating:
MLD rapidly reduces bruising and swelling in a gentle and pain-free way, which makes it a great compliment to physical therapy, helping you to get back to full health more quickly than with physio alone.
Swelling and associated pain