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Treatment for Lymphoedema (Lymphedema)
Treatment for swollen legs using Manual Lymphatic DrainageLymphoedema of the legs and ankles. Great News! Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy works!
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which is designed to encourage the natural circulation of the lymph through the body. The lymph system depends on peristalsis and the movement of skeletal muscles to squeeze fluid through lymph ducts and vessels, thus ensuring a constant cleansing and removal of excess fluid from the limbs and cellular spaces. Lymphoedema and swelling may be due to an overall increase in the amount of excess fluid, or a blockage, causing lymph accumulation, anywhere in the confines of your lymphatic system. MLD is now recognized as a primary tool in lymphoedema management and is the main therapy used at The Haven Healing Centre for lymphoedema of the legs and ankles.
An example of lymphoedema of the legs and ankles and the benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage
After four weeks of treatment, we began to see positive changes. 1) There was a serious reduction in leg pain on both sides, legs, knees and thighs. 2) After the second and third treatment, there was nighttime itching of the skin. Whilst uncomfortable for a few nights, it demonstrated that the skin and underlying tissue was cleansing and changing. This soon calmed down and went away. 3) After the fourth treatment, the (measured and noted) reduction in circumference was being maintained visually for around four days. The legs also felt cooler (high protein concentrations cause excess heat build up). 4) Gradually, over time, but in particular after the fifth treatment, the hard fibrotic sub tissue was softening and the skin began to take on a soft feel. The fingerpad skin test sees the skin go white upon pressure and then back to pink. The finger dent returns to normal in less than a second. 5) Pretty much all of the years of discomfort and pain are now in the past and this patient is finding they can do a lot more than before. Walking and stairs are easier and mostly painfree. - My heartfelt thanks to this patient for allowing me to share this story and pictures.
Do you know the best thing about Manual Lymph Drainage?
You can see the results straight away. I usually measure up the leg every 3" from the medial malleolus bone, and then at each point measure the circumference of each leg in cms. After the treatment, I measure each point again and note the difference. There is almost always a reduction of between 1 and 3 cms. Thus, I find I have a real incentive in carrying on with the work and so does the patient. The legs are less painful and less likely to get infected. The skin 'feels' better, legs look better, and quite often there is a corresponding loss of weight as the fluid that is being retained is being flushed from the system, though, this is mostly fluid weight loss. It is still less work for the joints and ultimately less work for the heart.
Lymphoedema can lead to a loss of mobility, clumbsiness, depression, excess weight and anxiety. There is a corresponding loss of quality of life and health. During treatment we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows the patient to relax. In fact, many patients say that MLD is even more relaxing than massage, so a deep mental healing can occur as well as the physical one.
Primary and secondary lymphoedema
Primary lymphoedema has a hereditary nature and can be due to the genetic make up of the individual. Secondary lymphoedema can be the result of trauma to the lymphatic system, usually after surgical removal of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes, prior to radiation therapy or as treatment for cancer. Lymphoedema of the upper extremities (the arms) is common with breast cancer, while lymphoedema of the legs can follow prostate, or abdominal surgery.
The best time to treat lymphoedema is on first showing or diagnosis, well before it gets out of hand, or has taken hold by time. The longer you have lymphoedema, the harder it is to treat and eventually it can become impossible to reverse. Lymphedema signs in an arm and leg include: pain, redness, aches, swelling, heaviness or feelings of fullness/tightness, an increase of external and internal infections.
Will I have to do exercises?
Shortly after starting your treatment, and it can be shown that we are making progress, I will give you some simple leg exercises to do which involve creating a pumping action with your soleus muscle (the deeper one of your calf muscles). This is the muscle that drives lymph return when you walk and is sometimes known as 'the second heart'. I will demonstrate these for you and ensure you can do them properly before leaving. We will start slowly and gradually increase with caution. The contraindications are to stop immediately upon experiencing pain, swelling or discomfort.
Here's what happened to me:
In 2002, I had a serious accident at home. My foot twisted laterally to around 120 degrees, snapping my fibula about a third of the way up, and fracturing the lateral malleolus (fibula) and medial malleolus (tibia) that clamps either side of the talus bone in the foot. In addition, all of the bones of the foot were forced apart, rupturing the ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, lymph channels and nerves serving the foot. My foot was numb in many places, including the dorsal aspect, the heel and all along at the base of the toes. Several operations were involved in repair of the damage, with screws and plates being used at varying times to help to reconstruct the foot.
Needless to say, I was going to be in difficulty with this for a very long time and apart from the pain, swelling was something I found it impossible to control, sometimes my ankle was as big as my thigh. So, realizing that massage wouldn't be the answer, I got every book I could find on Lymphatic Drainage and the Vodder Technique, and taught myself manual lymph drainage, with me as the guinea pig. Here are the results:-
What other conditions can benefit from using Manual Lymphatic Drainage?
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Note: DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
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