Lymphoedema Massage

Figure 1: Decongestive Lymphatic Drainage

Figure 1:
Decongestive Lymphatic Drainage

Decongestive lymphatic drainage (DLD) (Figure1.) employs a series of specific manual techniques, aiming to eliminate excess fluid in tissues and return it to the bloodstream. These non-invasive hands-on techniques are gentle, relaxing and rhythmic in nature.

How does it work?

A healthy lymphatic system controls the fluid balance in the tissues and bloodstream (Figure 2). Lymphoedema is a condition where excess lymph fluid collects in the tissues of the body at various locations and the lymph system is not able to remove the fluid.

DLD aims to stimulate the movement and absorption of lymph fluid to facilitate a healthy body and lymphatic system. Through gentle stretch, twist, and contracting and releasing movements, DLD serves as a pumping machine to make the lymphatic pathways contract faster, facilitate the fluid out of tissue and enhance immunity and detoxification. In addition, by its nature of using slow paced approaches, DLD can reduce the sympathetic tone and facilitate the parasympathetic tone in the nervous system, so that relaxation and reduction in muscle spasm, stiffness and pain can be achieved.

What happens during a DLD treatment?

During the treatment, lying on the back and front are the two most common treatment positions. The experienced physiotherapist may or may not apply lotion on the skin dependent on the skin condition, to ensure the greatest level of comfort in addition to reducing any reddening of the skin during treatment. The therapist will then commence the individualised lymphatic drainage patterns tailored to the individual patient presentation.

Each session lasts approximately 30 to 45 minutes and results in relaxation and symptom reduction. Home exercises will be introduced individually after the session to ensure the long-lasting results.

How frequently do I need to be treated?

In the first 6 weeks, the intensive phase, 2 to 3 sessions per week provides the greatest benefit and provides an indicator of future progress.

Then in the progressive phase, 1 session fortnightly would be the best timing to review the progress and deal with any residual issues. In the final phase, maintenance and follow-ups, 1 session every 6 weeks would be beneficial for maintaining long-term well-being.

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