Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) was developed in 1936 by Dr. Emil Vodder and his wife Estrid in Paris as a treatment for swollen lymph nodes.
It is a light, skin-stretching massage that helps move the lymphatic fluid out of the swollen limb. Not to be confused with traditional massage, MLD focuses specifically on the lymph vessels with the intention of encouraging the natural drainage of lymphatic fluid. It is most commonly used to treat swelling, edema and lymphedema. It can also be used to treat head pressure, constipation, sinusitis, chronic swelling, lower limb swelling during pregnancy, aches and pains as well as blocked milk ducts. MLD is also used to help healing from surgery and burns speed up while scar development decreases.
Therapy is first applied to your unaffected areas. This makes it possible to decongest and move the lymphatic fluid out of the affected area. Manual lymph drainage helps open the functioning lymph collectors that remain and move fluid and protein into them. It also helps speed up the flow of lymph fluid through the lymphatics.
MLD is intended to increase rhythmic contractions of the lymphatics and stimulate lymph nodes to enhance their activity so stagnant lymphatic fluid can be rerouted. It is composed of four main strokes: scoop technique, stationary circles, rotary technique, and pump technique. It is effective as a preventative treatment as well as a postoperative rehabilitation treatment, and has even better results when it is combined with other elements of Combined Decongestive Therapy. It increases the blood flow in both deep and superficial veins. MLD may also be useful for conditions such as palliative care, and post-surgical and post-traumatic edema.
There may be different methods of MLD outside of what Dr. Vodder started, but all methods have several things in common. All methods are usually performed with the patient lying down. Every session of MLD starts and ends with deep breathing from the diaphragm. Lymph nodes and regions of the body that aren’t affected are treated first. All MLD is performed using gentle pressure in slow rhythmical movements.
The duration of treatment varies based on the stage of the lymphedema the client has. Intensive treatment may occur over two to four weeks and less intensive treatments could last months or years.
At STG Health and Wellness, we are trained and certified with Vodder Level 1 and 3 Therapy Training. Allowing us to treat and manage your Lymphedema symptoms.