The lymphatic system: The lymphatic vascular system is a series of pathways consisting of vessels and nodes that supports the venous system in filtration and removal of substances from the tissue spaces.Lymph vessels can absorb and remove all those molecules that are too large to enter the venous system, such as viruses and bacteria.The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and functions in fluid balance, elimination of waste products (cellular debris etc.) transport of nutrients and largely in immune responses.
When there is damage or obstruction in the drainage system, the lymphatic fluid, consisting of water, fats, proteins and cells, cannot drain properly and accumulates, causing congestion in the soft tissue and possibly edema formation.
What is manual lymphatic drainage? MLD is the application of a gentle skin technique used to assist or redirect the flow of fluid through the tissues and back into the blood circulatory system.Essentially the goal of MLD is to restore fluid equilibrium, or balance, in the tissue.
MLD is used to treat a variety of conditions ranging from sprains and other acute sports injuries, whiplash, post surgical and post traumatic lymphedemas, to cosmetic disorders / skin conditions, rheumatic and joint disorders, neurological and gynecological disorders, and others such as general pain management and musculoskeletal conditions (frozen shoulder, tendinitis etc).It can also be used as a retuning of the autonomic system and as a health maintenance treatment for burn-out / stress.
What is edema? Edema / Swelling -abnormal pooling of fluid in tissues caused by injury, inflammation, venous insufficiency, congestive heart failure or other conditions. This is not due to a problem with the lymphatic system, though it may later be affected.
What is lymphedema? Lymphedema -accumulation of protein rich fluid in the tissues due to a reduction in the amount of fluid the system can carry caused by damage or malfunction of the lymphatic system.The underlying problem is a mechanical insufficiency of the lymphatic system where it is unable to absorb the normal amount of lymphatic fluid, resulting in congestion of protein in the tissues.Proteins have water attracting properties which pull more fluid in and they can only be removed by the lymph vessels.
There are two types of lymphedema - Primary:a developmental disorder of the lymph vessels and nodes (too few, too many or absence of) can be present from birth or may develop later in life.Slight injuries such as insect bites and long flights can also cause primary lymphedema because lymph vessels that are present are no longer able to transport the increased amount of lymphatic fluid.
Secondary:damage to the lymphatic system or removed vessels or nodes from radiation or surgery, inflammation, malignancy and other trauma.
How is Lymphedema treated? Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT): -Manual Lymphatic Drainage -Bandaging / Compression -Exercise -Skin Care