Lymphoedema is a term used to describe swelling that can occur anywhere in the body. It is often an outcome of the treatment for cancer such as surgery and/or radiotherapy but may also be caused by accident or trauma, venous problems, recurrent infections, reduced mobility or by cancer itself. This is known as secondary lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema can also be present at birth or may develop later in life, during puberty or mid-life and is due to abnormal functioning or underdevelopment of the lymphatics and is known as primary lymphoedema.

Although there is no cure for lymphoedema, MLD can be used successfully to relieve and manage symptoms. The rhythmic, pumping movements gently stretch the skin over the tissues below to activate the lymphatic system.

Techniques specifically used for lymphoedema encourage the movement of fluid away from the swollen area toward other areas where there are healthy lymphatics. Over time and with patience the body can be re-educated to take the fluid through different lymphatic pathways.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is effective in:

  • reducing swelling
  • relieving pain
  • improving mobility
  • encouraging better exchange of fluid in the tissues

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is indicated:

  • if there is pain and discomfort from swelling
  • where tissue has become hard (fibrosis)
  • where lymphoedema occurs on the trunk eg. chest, back, underarm, breast or abdomen
  • to reduce limb size and improve shape
  • to promote wound healing

For further information about lymphoedema contact:
The Lymphoedema Support Network
The British Lymphology Society