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“What  exactly is manual lymphatic drainage?” 

I was asked this at a recent wellness meet up.  I was reminded that the technique I use all the time frequently requires explanation. It needs to be explained even to people who work in health care.  If you are wondering what manual lymphatic drainage is, I will do my best to explain it here.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a gentle manual therapy technique used by therapists.  It encourages the movement of fluid (called lymph) through the body.  It is a slow and gentle technique that feels like a stretching the skin. Small lymph capillary are located just under the skin.  With an understanding of the lymphatic pathways, certified therapists are able to encourage the movement of this fluid away from swollen, inflamed or painful areas.

Who can benefit?

MLD is most common in the treatment of lymphedema but also has been found to be beneficial for those who have swelling due to almost any reason including surgery, sprain, lipidema or arthritis.  Those with autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis may gain relief from pain and swelling through MLD.  It is also widely used after cosmetic surgery to reduce swelling.

Why is this important?  Swelling and inflammation often lead to problems with mobility.  Simple daily tasks like standing up from a chair, getting out of bed and walking can become difficult with swelling.  Also, daily living tasks like getting dressed or putting groceries away can be challenging with swelling.

Who should avoid MLD?

If you have an acute infection such as cellulitis, untreated congestive heart failure (CHF) or an acute blood clot (DVT), manual lymphatic drainage is NOT recommended.  Always discuss treatment such as manual lymphatic drainage with your doctor to ensure it is the right fit for you.

  If you are in the Chicagoland Area and are looking for a qualified therapist, please don’t hesitate to call or email! I would love to help you on your path to wellness!!

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