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Manual lymphatic drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gen- ing limb edema in at-risk women or treating women for
tle massage which is intended to encourage the natural the condition.[7]
drainage of the lymph, which carries waste products away
from the tissues back toward the heart. The lymph system depends on intrinsic contractions of the smooth mus- 3 References
cle cells in the walls of lymph vessels (peristalsis) and the
movement of skeletal muscles to propel lymph through [1] Milady’s Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage; Ramona
the vessels to lymph nodes and then to the lymph ducts
Moody French; Delmar/Cengage; 2004
which return lymph to the cardiovascular system. Manual
lymph drainage uses a specific amount of pressure (less [2] Stillerman, Elaine (2009). Modalities for Massage and
Bodywork. Mosby. pp. 129–143. ISBN 032305255X.
than 9 ounces per square inch or about 4 kPa) and rhyth[1][2]
mic circular movements to stimulate lymph flow.
[3] Levine, Andrew (1998). The Bodywork and Massage
Sourcebook. Lowell House.





[4] “Complete Lymphedema Certification”.
Academy of Lymphatic Studies. Retrieved 16 July 2013.

Manual lymphatic drainage was pioneered by Danish Drs.
Emil Vodder and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s[2] for the
treatment of chronic sinusitis and other immune disorders. While working on the French Riviera treating
patients with chronic colds, the Vodders noticed these
patients had swollen lymph nodes. In the 1930s, the
lymphatic system was poorly understood. The Vodders
were not deterred by this and, in 1932, began to study
the lymph system, developing light, rhythmic hand movements to promote lymph movement. In 1936, they introduced this technique in Paris, France, and after World
War II, they returned to Copenhagen to teach other practitioners to use this therapy.[3]



[5] “Manual Lymph Drainage Combined With Compression
Therapy for Arm Lymph- edema Following Breast Cancer
Treatment” (PDF). SBU.CE. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
[6] Vairo GL, Miller SJ, McBrier NM, Buckley WE (2009).
“Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic
drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: an evidence-based practice approach”. J Man Manip Ther. 17 (3): e80–9. doi:10.1179/jmt.2009.17.3.80e.
PMC 2755111 . PMID 20046617.
[7] Huang TW, Tseng SH, Lin CC, Bai CH, Chen CS,
Hung CS, Wu CH, Tam KW (2013). “Effects of manual lymphatic drainage on breast cancer-related lymphedema: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.”. World J Surg Oncol. 11 (15).
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-11-15. PMC 3562193 . PMID


MLD is now recognized as a primary tool in lymphedema
My Body Contour - What is Lymphatic Massage?
management. Therapists can today receive
tion through special classes conducted by various organizations specializing in MLD, or through a complete
lymphedema treatment certification course.[4] Scientific [1]
studies show mixed results regarding the efficacy of the
method in treating lymphedema and further studies are
needed.[5] A 2009 meta-analysis of studies in the area
of sports medicine and rehabilitation showed best evidence of effectiveness for Manual lymphatic drainage
treatment to “enzyme serum levels associated with acute
skeletal muscle cell damage as well as reduction of edema
[swelling] around broken bones.” [6] A 2013 systematic review of manual lymphatic drainage with regard to
breast cancer related lymphedema found no clear support
for the effectiveness of the intervention in either prevent1


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