Lymphatic Drainage

Lymphatic massage, sometimes called manual lymphatic drainage, is a specialized type of medical massage. It can help treat lymphedema, in which lymphatic fluid collects in certain areas of the body because it cannot drain away effectively. Lymphatic massage aims to improve the flow of lymph fluid, which should reduce swelling. Massaging an area without swelling will make space for fluid to flow to those parts from more congested areas.

What is a lymphatic drainage massage used for?

Lymph drainage massage has become a popular form of massage due to its potential health benefits. This specialized approach focuses on the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system.  This type of massage aims to help the body maintain proper blood circulation, body fluid balance, and immune functions.

Lymphedema happens when your tissues retain fluid left behind after your cardiovascular system sends blood to your tissues and organs.

The remaining fluid is called lymph. Normally, your lymphatic system collects your lymph and returns it to your heart via a network of lymph vessels and lymph nodes. When something disrupts your lymphatic system’s process, lymph collects in your arms and legs, making them swell.

A massage therapist uses lymphatic drainage massage techniques to move lymph from your tissues to your lymph nodes, which eases the swelling in your tissues.

Understanding the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system contains vessels and nodes with lymph, a mixture of proteins, water, waste products, and immune system elements. Located throughout the body, lymph nodes filter all this debris.

The largest nodes are in the neck, groin, and armpits. They all work together to make sure “clean” lymph is transported back to the veins that carry blood toward the heart.

Treating Other Health Conditions

Aside from lymphedema, lymphatic drainage massage can help treat several health problems. Some conditions can benefit more from the massage than others.

Rheumatoid arthritis. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience poor lymph flow as the disease progresses. Along with tissue swelling, pain in the joints increases, joints lose their function, and the skin changes color. Lymph drainage massage can help ease these later-stage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Chronic venous insufficiency is when the valves or walls of the veins that are in the legs don’t work correctly. This makes it hard for the blood to flow back to the heart from the legs.‌ Lymphatic drainage massage can help increase the speed of blood flow in people with CVI. The massage can make the femoral artery — the large artery in the thigh — perform better immediately after the session. It’s unclear how long this impact lasts or whether the massage provides long-term relief from pain and swelling. Further research in this area would help bring more light to the effectiveness of this massage technique on CVI.
Fibromyalgia. Lymph drainage massage may help people with fibromyalgia. This condition causes inflammation of the skin nerves, discoloration of the skin, and tissue swelling. The massage has been shown to be better than connective tissue massage in treating depression, stiffness, and improving quality of life for those living with fibromyalgia.

Contact Glastonbury Massage Center today to see how our team of dedicated Licensed Massage Therapists can help you!

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