Lymphatic Drainage Massage and breast cancer
In 2007 my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. At the time, I was about five years into my career as a massage therapist. I knew that Lymphatic Drainage Massage could help her with her edema (swelling) in her arms and wanted to learn how to help. It took a few more years before I enrolled at CSHA to take the three-part certification course on Lymphatic Drainage Massage. In 2010 I completed the course and started performing lymphatic drainage massage on a variety of clients with different needs. With my grandmother as my inspiration, I've committed to helping as many women as I can with my knowledge of Lymphatic Drainage Massage. I have seen first hand how it can benefit my patients' post-recovery and beyond.
Let's talk about the Lymphatic System, Lymphatic Drainage Massage, how it works, who it can help, and how it can help post-cancer surgery.
The Lymphatic System is the fluid system in our bodies. It maintains our fluid balance through an extensive network of vessels that pass through almost all of our tissue to allow for movement of fluid called lymph. The Lymphatic System is responsible for filtering and removing the toxins out of our blood; it circulates our hormones throughout our bodies. The Lymphatic System also plays an essential role in our immune system. You know the feeling when you start to get sick, and you can feel pressure, and congestion in either side of your neck? Some may say that their “glands” are swollen; however this is your lymph nodes. This feeling is your lymphatic system working hard to fight off infection. You also have large lymph node gatherings in your armpits and groin area. There are about 600 lymph nodes in the body that surround your internal organs and aid in the filtration of the lymphatic fluid process. These nodes can swell in response to infection, injury or other organisms and immune system cells.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM) is a gentle, rhythmic touch that focus directly on the lymphatic system. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have its pump or pulse that continually circulates the fluid. In fact, the only way to get your lymphatic fluid to move is through exercise, walking, movement, or manually through LDM. If you sit around so will your lymphatic fluid. The lymphatic system is located about 2/3 of a centimeter under the skin, so it is very superficial, hence the gentle pressure. While receiving an LDM, clients experience a state of deep relaxation do to the light and rhythmic pressure. LDM is preformed in a very specific pattern following the exact flow of the lymphatic fluid to move out unwanted, stagnant, and excess fluid. This technique is hugely beneficial in an array of conditions.
Here are just a few conditions LMD can benefit:
lower blood pressure
Additionally, post-surgery (of any kind) LDM can remove swelling and help to push out anesthesia that can hang out in your system, making you feel fatigued for months!
Women who have undergone breast cancer surgery may have lymph nodes removed. When this happens, the flow of the fluid is greatly disrupted. The lymph flow gets confused and doesn’t know where to go or flow. This can cause a back up of fluid that affects the entire arm, side of the body and can even cause swelling up into the face. The Lymphatic fluid is accustom to flowing in a particular pathway, and when the lymph nodes are removed, the fluid doesn’t know the path to filter back out of the body. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, it also can decrease movement and range of motion. LDM moves this fluid and pushes it to filter out of the body naturally. When receiving LDM regularly, your body creates a muscle type of memory in the lymphatic system, which can aid in relearning pathways to filter out the fluid on its own! When I’m working on a client, and they can feel the fluid move out, it is amazing! My clients report feeling lighter, being able to move better and can visually see a difference. LDM post breast cancer is a game-changer!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!