by Dr. Felicia Adderley, Physiotherapist
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a manual technique that consists of gentle strokes over the body. The purpose of these treatments is to stimulate the Lymphatic system that lies just beneath the skin’s surface. It is not a massage as it does not affect the muscles; it is superficial. MLD treatments can be beneficial as they can:
- Increase lymph production
- Increase lymph angiomotoricity
- Reverse the flow of lymph fluid
- Increase venous return and
- Provide soothing and analgesic effects.
Due to these benefits, MLD treatments are recommended to aid in a wide range of diagnoses. It has been found to be effective with:
Lymphedema – Lymphedema is an accumulation of protein-rich fluid in the tissues. It is most often seen in those with cancer, like breast cancer. It is often confused with edema, which is an accumulation of water in the tissues. Both these conditions cause swelling; Lymphedema can be caused by a damaged lymphatic system. In severe cases, surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes is required. However, MLD treatments can offer great relief to those suffering from mild – moderate cases of lymphedema. Treatments should only be performed by those trained to perform MLD treatments however, as a different approach is required for those with lymphedema.
Fibromyalgia – MLD treatments can also help with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is an ailment that causes muscle pain, fatigue, memory loss, sleep loss, and mood issues. It affects more women than men and the medical community is not completely sure what causes it. Furthermore, there is no cure. However, its symptoms can be managed through medication, relaxation, and stress management. MLD can also greatly reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia as MLD treatments provide an analgesic and soothing effect.
Post-traumatic swelling – MLD treatments are also effective at reducing post-traumatic swelling by reducing inflammation and edema. Common conditions that produce swelling are ankle sprains, swollen hands, and swollen hips. MLD treatments are especially good at reducing swelling if included early as a part of treatment.
Post-surgical swelling – Swelling often occurs after surgical procedures. Surgeries can often be critical and necessary; however, the swelling that results from surgeries can get in the way of movement during rehab. MLD treatments can be used to reduce this swelling so that the full benefits of rehab can be seen. This is also true for those that underwent plastic surgery procedures like breast lifts, BBLs, liposuction, and rhinoplasty.
Migraines – Migraines are categorized by intense throbbing and pulsing in one area of the head. They are commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and a sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can cause significant pain for hours to days. They can be triggered by many things like hormonal changes in women, stress, and medications. MLD treatments can provide relief to migraines as MLD treatments provide analgesic and pain-relieving effects to the body.
Cellulite – Lastly, MLD treatments have been shown to decrease the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite is a disturbance of the subcutaneous fatty tissue caused by reduced circulation, reduced venous drainage, and reduced lymphatic drainage of the lower body. 90% of cellulite occurrences are in woman and it can be controlled by a combination of weight loss, a healthy diet, retinol, supplementation, laser treatments and MLD treatments.
MLD indeed has many benefits to different diagnoses, from the migraine to post-surgery to lymphedema. Discover the benefits for yourself today.