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Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system belongs to the circulatory apparatus, which provides one way for the blood to leave the heart, the arterial system, and two ways for it to return : the venous and lymphatic pathway. The lymphatic system is a second pathway back to the heart, parallel to the blood system.

Lymph is a fluid which originates in the connective tissue spaces of the body. Once it has entered the first lymph capillaries, the fluid is called lymph. The lymphatic circulation is a system with slow rhythm, low velocity and low pressure.

Part of the constituents of the blood will filter out of the blood capillaries. This blood capillary filtrate will join the surrounding tissues and to be reabsorbed in the lymphatic capillaries.

The lymphatic system fine tunes the drainage of the interstitium and constitutes a sort of overflow for the water and excess substances in the interstitial environment.

The lymphatics gradually increase in size : lymph capillaries feed into pre-collectors which connect to the lymphatic collectors, ducks and trunks and eventually join the major venous circulation just before reaching the heart behind the clavicles.

The lymphatic system transports large proteins and foreign bodies to lymphatic nodes which act as active purification centres. The nodes break down and destroy those particles so they can eventually be flushed out of the body through the organs of elimination.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is not a form of massage but it is a very gentle technique to detect the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymph flow and to stimulate the functions of the lymph and interstitial fluid circulation, which are critical for detoxification, removing and filtering of waste, toxins and excess fluids, regeneration of tissues, and a healthy immune system. MLD is a very light technique. This is because the practitioner is trying to influence vessels that are situated in the skin layers.

MLD is performed with appropriate draping. The practitioner will assess lymphatic circulation and determine the best alternate pathways for draining body-fluid stagnations. Practitioners work with flat hands, using all the fingers to simulate gentle, specific wavelike movements.

A treatment commences at the neck to clear the area and make space for lymph to be brought there. The next part of the sequence will depend entirely on why MLD is being performed and the particular needs of the individual.


Our Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy and Combined Decongestive Therapy treatments are suitable for cancer patients

If you are suffering from chronic swelling due to the removal of lymph nodes as part of your breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or prostate cancer treatment, and want to understand and learn more about managing this life-long risk click here to read more about lymphedema