Lymphedema Massage Therapy is used as a healing and pain management technique for those who suffer from Lymphoedema. Although some people may refer to LMT as Manual lymphatic drainage massage or MLD; there are differences between the two methods.
The lymphatic system contains vessels and glands that run throughout your entire body and its main “job” is to help fight infection and drain excess fluid from the body’s tissues. This free infographic from The Cancer Treatment Centers of America will help explain the lymphatic system and what Lymphedema is all about.
2 Main Types of Lymphedema
- Primary Lymphoedema – This type of Lymphoedema occurs due to faulty genes, which in turn affects the lymphatic system; reducing its ability to help your body fight off infection and often creating chronic pain, along with other health issues.
- Secondary Lymphoedema – The most common type of Lymphoedema, secondary occurs after a traumatic event to the body; such as cancers, surgeries or other health issues which can include inflammation, inability or reduced ability to move properly, and/or the interruption of draining the fluid of the lymphatic system.
Performing Lymphedema Massage Therapy LMT or Manual Lymphatic Drain Massage should only be performed by therapy specialists who are specially trained in the proper massage techniques required and always with the approval of a Lymphoedema oncologist and/or endocrinologist.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment for Lymphedema may include
- Light Massage
- Compression Sleeves/Bandages
- Light Exercise (Range of Motion)
- Manual Lymph Drainage
- Skin Care
- Other Techniques
Life with Lymphedema
The most important thing to focus on is staying in constant touch with your specialist physician. Remember that there are two main reasons for Lymphedema to occur and the sooner you seek medical attention the less you will have to suffer.
Signs of Lymphoedema May Include
- Indentation of the skin when pressed is an early indication that you could be dealing with Lymphedema; especially if you press on it and the area stays indented
- Lack of flexibility in the hand(s), wrist(s) or ankles; or decreased movement
- Swelling; commonly in the areas of the fingers, hands, shoulders, arms, chest, feet, and legs (however any swelling should be addressed by your physician)
- Aching (commonly in the shoulders, neck, spine or hip area)
- Heated radiation, pain, or redness at the affected area
- Heaviness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Skin feeling tight, hardened and inflexible
- Noticing that you are having difficulty putting on rings, shoes, certain clothing, etc. due to swelling of the affected areas
Anytime you are suffering from Lymphedema it is important to seek attention and treatment. Lymphedema Massage Therapy is often one of the best ways to clear your body of the fluids that gather and cause these symptoms, but please be careful to find a certified specialist or you could do your body more harm than good.
Note: In order to qualify for Lymphedema Massage Therapy provided by Above & Beyond Home Health Care, patients must qualify as “homebound” and must also have a doctor’s order for such treatment.
*Note: Lymphedema can also be spelled Lymphoedema and are one in the same. We refer to it both ways so that either search will result in finding this page.
Photo by Becky Boone