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Manual Lymph Drainage for Painful, Swollen Legs
Treatment for lymphedema and fibrosis of the thighs and legs
In severe cases swollen legs may be an early sign of heart failure, kidney failure, or liver failure. In these conditions, there is too much fluid in the body and you should seek medical advice before attempting to deal with this yourself.
Swelling in a foot, leg and thigh, is a buildup of fluid called peripheral edema. Peripheral edema can cause quite severe discomfort and pain. But there is usually a cause, and it's important to find out the reason for this fluid build up.
What are the causes of swelling in the legs?
Foot, leg, and ankle swelling are common in the following situations:
It's important to get a proper diagnosis first, so make sure your doctor knows about your concerns, and see if they have any recommendations prior to commencing a series of LDM sessions. You might be confronted with a diagnosis like: deep vein thrombosis (DVT), baker's cyst (popliteal cyst), inflammation, cellulitis, an allergic reaction, rheumatoid arthritis, or a host of other worse conditions that may need medical care.
Once you have the all clear, then it is safe and recommended that a course of Manual Lymph Drainage be performed to shift the excess fluid and get it moving. This helps to exchange stagnant fluid for fresh, clean fluid on an ongoing basis. Once you perform the treatment, it continues to exchange fluid for many hours afterwards, as the 'pull' of fluid from the distal parts of the body occurs by the persistence of vacuum in the lymphatic system.
This is the fascinating thing about LDM; the fact that you will continue to gain benefits from it for several days afterwards. Once the body re-establishes a normal routine and cycle of refreshing stagnant fluids, your body can heal itself, energize itself and keep the benefits going. This healing phenomenon is then boosted further, during and following subsequent treatments.
Things to try at home before deciding to give Manual Lymph Drainage a try
Unfortunately, lymphedema doesn't just come on its own. It brings with it complications that can have long term implications for future health and wellbeing.
Long term lymphedema can cause a condition known as fibrosis (an abnormal condition in which fibrous connective tissue spreads over or replaces normal smooth muscle or other normal organ tissue). Following extended lymphedema, fibrosis produces a hardening of the limb or organ, with a resulting restriction of circulatory flow, increased infection, and, in the case of limbs, weeping sores. As we are concerned with the legs in this article, the thighs, legs, ankles and feet can become hard and dense.
Fibrosis comes in three stages. In stage one, the tissue is normal, the lymph is normal, and still fluid, the tissue becomes satiated, and recovery is relatively easy and assured.
In stage two, the tissue remains soaked in fluid, but nothing is moving. The fluid begins to stagnate, waste products build up, protein molecules accumulate and bacteria can start to grow, feeding on the decay under the skin, producing their own waste products. As the circulation slows down, less oxygen is delivered to the cells and an anaerobic soup begins to develop that produces tiredness, and eventually exhaustion.
In stage three, a general feeling of being unwell and everything slowing down, means that you are less inclined to do anything, and this compounds the problem, as the saturated tissues become dense, hard and unable to function at normal levels. Internal tissue is changing state due to the demands placed upon it, and in order to survive the body must allow the fibrous tissue to adapt to the new environment. This density of tissue is unnatural and so can be painful, susceptible to disease, debilitating, responsible for blood clots, and very hard to treat.
Pressure on muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves can cause neuropathy (called peripheral neuropathy), and this can be further complicated by infections, chemotherapy or burns to the skin. As fibrotic tissue can be the perfect hiding place for bacteria, it is not unusual for sufferers to have repeat infections that require greater and greater, or stronger and stronger, types of antibiotics, as these medications rely on a good circulation to deliver their payload. Something that the density of fibrotic tissue is unable to allow.
What benefits can I expect from a course of Manual Lymph Drainage on my legs?
Look, I can't promise you anything up front, but the reason I put this article online was because of the many successes MLD is producing for the patients that are currently coming for treatment. The benefits were so profound that I thought it warranted an article of its own, just to share with you what you might be able to expect to achieve with this therapy. So I invite you to give this a try.
Patients are reporting many wonderful improvements in their symptoms, including:
Apart from the medical concerns detailed above, a sedentary lifestyle is the most often to blame. You see, the heart pumps blood through the arteries under high pressure. You may know your blood pressure expressed as a figure, such as, 120 over 80, or, 140 over 95, or whatever it is for you.
These numbers represent pressure at the pump stroke, and at the rest phase, of the heart cycle. This means that as the main arteries branch out into smaller and smaller arteries, and then into tiny capillaries, the surface area increases rapidly, and the starting pressure gradually decreases with the distance from the heart. Oxygen in the blood cells is transferred through the capillary wall to the cells of the organs and muscles and skin, along with water and nutrients that are used for growth and repair. The remainder flows into the veins where it can make its way to the lungs for re-oxygenating.
However, by now the blood pressure generated by the heartbeat has been dissipated and there is insufficient to create a proper return from the veins. This is why veins have valves in them. When you move, your muscle movement 'squeezes' the veins and pushes blood along the vein, which is then unable to flow backwards because of the one-way valves that prevent backflow. This creates a small vacuum in the vein, and subsequent movements, such as walking, creates a rhythm of pulses that sends blood up the veins toward the heart.
So where does the swelling come from?
Not all the water supplied to the cells gets back into the blood supply, and some of it moves into what are called the interstitial spaces between the cells and layers of the body. This fluid, or lymph, also contains the chemical and protein debris of cellular regeneration. This fluid must be scooped up by the lymph channels and returned to the blood supply for filtering and recycling. But again, your lymphatic system doesn't have a 'heart' of its own, and so relies on body movement to move the lymph along the channels.
A great example is your soleus muscle in your calf. This muscle is deep to the gastrocnemius muscle, which is the big calf muscle you can see. The soleus is sometimes called 'the second heart' because when it moves it creates a rhythm of pressure that sends blood and lymph up and out of the legs toward your heart. So you can see why it's important to keep your exercises going don't you? Even a short, brisk walk everyday will help to keep the blood and lymph exchanging in your legs, and this is probably the single best way to ensure the health of your legs, longterm.
Is your lymphedema becoming intolerable due to pain and irritation? Long term lymphedema can cause a condition known as fibrosis, especially in the legs. This can cause them to feel hard, solid, dense and painful. It becomes much more difficult for medication or antibiotics to have an effect in these areas because of the density of the tissue and subsequent reduction in fluid movement, including blood delivery. It's never too late to try to make changes in the tissue, but success is reduced the longer fibrosis has been building up. A few treatments, on a regular basis, could enable you to walk better, walk further, to sleep longer and with less pain. If this idea resonates with you, I invite you to visit The Haven Healing Centre in Cheddar for a course of treatments. Appointments and a treatment price list are available by clicking here. I look forward to welcoming you soon. Phil.
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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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