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Manual Lymphatic Drainage For Lymphodema

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a way of reducing swelling caused by fluid build-up in patients with Lymphedema. Lymphedema generally occurs in the arms or legs. Sometimes both arms and both legs swell. It is most commonly caused by the removal of, or damage to the lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment.

How it works

The aim of MLD is to move fluid from the swollen area towards a place where the lymphatic system is working normally.

To do this, the therapist first uses specialised skin movements to clear the area that they want the fluid to drain into. It might seem strange to experience skin movements on your chest and neck if you have lymphedema in your arm. But it means that the fluid has somewhere to drain to when the arm is treated by the therapist.

How you have MLD

Treatment is usually carried out whilst lying down. However, with lymphoedema in the head and neck, a sitting position is used.

During MLD, you may feel gentle pressure. The skin movements are very light so that the small lymph vessels are not flattened. Flattened lymph vessels would prevent the lymph fluid from draining. The movements are slow and rhythmic so that the lymph vessels open.