Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Posted: 1st July 2014

By Anne Schreiber - Co-Director of 56 London Road Clinic & Lymphedema Specialist

Manual Lymphatic drainage is quite a mouthful to say and is shortened to MLD. It is a clinically proven massage therapy to stimulate the lymphatic system and increase the re-absorption of fluid.

There are many medical reasons which sooner or later can cause lymphedema/swelling. Having lymphedema/swelling in one of your limbs does not
necessarily indicate that there is anything wrong with your lymphatic’s, it can be because it is over burdened by an inadequate venous system or because of outside circumstances after radiotherapy, operation, accident etc. where the lymphatic becomes impaired.

MLD is a wonderful treatment which works on any oedema in the body weather it is macroscopic or microscopic. The latter will be for example arthritic condition and MS with the swollen, tender joint, where the re-absorption reduces the joint swelling and the analgesic of the MLD reduces the tenderness. Many swear by MLD for detoxification of the body.

The lymphatic’s not only our biggest waste collector; it removes all the biggest particles away from the body which the venous system cannot cope with. The venous system is also responsible for our immunity thanks to its t-lymphocytes.

A large component of our body weight consists of fluid. In this fluid the nutrients are transported to cells
and waste disposal from cells takes place. If this fluid is healthy, this process of transportation happens more quickly.

People often ask me what type of lymphedema patients come to the clinic. I often have people suffering from arm oedemas as a result of breast cancer treatment and leg oedema as a result of cervical cancer treatment.

Though operational procedures and early detection now minimises the risk of developing oedema, it is still occurs. The initial treatment consists of:

  • Assessment
  • Measurement of limbs
  • Volume calculation
  • Photographic evidence for later comparison
  • Posture and weight distribution
  • Physio advice
  • Dietary
  • Dermalogical advice
  • Foot wear and podiatry advice

The ethos of the clinic when it opened was to create an umbrella for lymphedema patients under which they could bounce from whatever treatment they required during their course of cancer treatment. The idea was to create a haven where people who have been to hell and back were encouraged to take control of their condition. Hopefully this helped them to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Presently, this ethos and beauty is still in place; however the clinic has now grown to become more multidisciplinary.