Any damage to the lymph vessels and pathways due to their removal or surgery causes a blockage in the flow of the lymph, resulting in an accumulation of the fluids. This pooling usually happens in the arms or legs and a swelling develops in the area. A lymphedema massage can be beneficial in this case as the process helps to stimulate the fluids to move in the right direction towards the blood stream. The body is thus able to function normally to process these fluids and dispose the excess along with the waste materials.
The term ‘massage’ as we know it aims to relax the muscles and loosen out the ligaments and tendons. A normal massage tends to increase the blood flow in the arteries with firm strokes and loosen the muscles. Manual lymph drainage is a kind of massage therapy that is used to treat lymphedema. Here the difference is that the massage is done with light strokes to gently stimulate the flow of lymph in the desired direction. Combining it with other types of therapy like compression bandaging, use of compression garments, exercise and skin care, it is a proven method of treatment for lymphedema.
Usually manual lymph drainage is performed by a trained therapist who has the knowledge of using lymphedema massage for treating the condition. If too much pressure is applied on the skin, it may lead to an increase in blood flow and water retention in the tissues. This would defeat the whole purpose of the exercise and instead cause more complications. Therefore, a lymphedema massage must be performed by an expert who is familiar with the contraindications as well.
If a trained massage therapist performs manual lymph drainage, it can be helpful to the patient. It is extremely important for the therapist to have experience in dealing with lymphedema patients, especially with the technique for directing the fluids towards the bloodstream. The patient can perform a self-massage to keep the swelling in check. However, any improvement in the condition or a decline should be noted. In case there is a negative impact, the patient must review his options and make the necessary changes.
A massage therapy by itself is very soothing and helps a person relax and deal better with the stress of surgery or an illness. A massage may assist in alleviating the swelling and the accompanying pain, thus enabling the body to heal quickly. The question many people have in mind is whether a massage can prevent lymphedema. Skilled therapists who have experience in dealing with lymphedema patients can make a difference. Lymphedema massage can be used as a preventive measure and as a treatment for controlling the condition. Apart from massage, high risk patients must be alert to early symptoms and begin treatment at the first opportunity.