WHAT IS A LYMPHATIC MASSAGE?
Our lymphatic system helps eliminate the body’s waste. A healthy, active lymphatic system uses the natural movements of smooth muscle tissue to do this. However, surgery or other damage can cause fluids to build up in our lymph system and lymph nodes, a condition known as lymphedema. If you’ve ever had a surgery on or involving your lymph nodes, your doctor may have suggested lymphatic drainage massage.
HOW DOES A LYMPHATIC MASSAGE HELP?
Up to 25 percent of breast cancer patients whose surgery includes removal of lymph nodes in the area of the armpit eventually develop lymphedema. The condition can also occur in the legs or other parts of the body if lymph nodes are removed in the course of other types of surgery – for melanoma, colon, prostate or bladder cancer, for example – or are damaged by radiation treatment, infection or trauma. Symptoms include swelling and pain near the site of the removed or damaged lymph nodes. Lymphedema can occur immediately after radiation therapy or surgery, or weeks, months, and even years later.
There are two stages of lymphatic massage (Clearing & Reabsorption). The purpose of clearing is to create a vacuum with gentle pressure so the area is prepared to bring in more fluid, creating a flushing effect. Clearing usually involves the following areas.
- The Supraclavicular Lymph Area: Located Directly Under the Collarbone
- The Axillary Lymph Area: Located Under the Arms
- The Inside of The Elbows
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Dehydration can stiffen the fascia and muscles, which translates to a more painful massage. Ensure you’re sipping adequate amounts of H20 before you hop on the table. If you are dealing with a serious injury though, and don’t have a diagnosis, definitely see one of our doctors. While a therapist can identify and attempt to alleviate any tightness and inflammation in the body, it is very important you first consult with a doctor. Once a diagnosis is given, your massage therapist can work with that information and use massage as a helpful tool in recovery.