Manual lymph drainage and what it means to have a certified lymph therapist part of your oncology medical care team.

What is the lymphatic system anyways?

Lymph node blockage can be alike a busy grocery storeNot much is ever really discussed about this crucial system and the role that it plays in our bodies and our immune systems. The lymph system is the body’s natural cleansing mechanism, ridding our cells of toxic fluids. Without a functional lymphatic system, the body swells, and aches, and we feel sluggish even sick at times. Lymphatic drainage massage can help the lymphatic system flush these fluids, and jump-start the cleansing process when the body has built up too much inflammation.

A working lymphatic system is key to healing and regenerating tissues. The lymphatic system is complex and primarily made up of lymph nodes and vessels working together to maintain a healthy immune system. Your lymphatic system plays an important role in immunity as it keeps bodily fluids in balance while defending against infections. The lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and fluid it contains are all a part of this complex system designed to remove toxins from the body, along with other unwanted materials and waste from the blood. When this system gets clogged up, infections, inflammation, and other issues arise—making it hard for the body to find balance

Let me break this down for you… Imagine that you are standing in the checkout line at your local supermarket and only one register is open, the line is backed up down the aisle with customers waiting to get through. The store is getting crowded as more and more people begin to line up with nowhere else to go. You can imagine the chaos that begins to ensue. This is what can happen within your body when your lymphatic system isn’t working to its full capability, whether that be from lymph nodes being removed as part of your treatment, a build-up of toxins in the body after chemotherapy or damage to the lymph system due to radiation.

Now imagine if that same store were to open additional lanes and placed someone to direct the customers where to go to clear them out as quickly and efficiently as possible. This would help to relieve and/or prevent the upset and congestion. When comparing the situation at the store to your lymphatic system after oncology treatments they hold many similarities. When you have had surgery like a mastectomy, lymph node biopsy or radiation the lymphatic pathways become damaged restricting the lymph system from moving efficiently much like the single checkout being open. When manual lymph drainage is applied to the body it encourages the lymph system to find alternate pathways to filter through to eliminate the swelling that can occur. Much like placing an additional person at the store to direct the customers where to go. Therefore, adding a certified lymph therapist to your care team can be very beneficial to help to alleviate the post-operative edema, tight and heavy feeling, bruising and numbness as well as stress and fatigue.

What is Lymphatic drainage therapy?

(LDT) is a light hands-on technique used to encourage the natural drainage of lymph fluid from the tissues. By utilizing a gentle pumping motion, your therapist will help drain away pockets of water retention and trapped toxins in your body, so they flow more freely within the lymphatic system. Depending on where the blockages are, it will determine the specific lymph nodes and directions your therapist will need to use.

LDT should be used alongside your other breast cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, etc. You may also be put on exercise or physical therapy plans to promote further healing.  Always check with your oncologist to make sure Manual lymph drainage is right for you.

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