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tcm-shanghai  >  Blog   >  Suffering from Swelling? Find Relief with Specialized Massage

Suffering from Swelling? Find Relief with Specialized Massage

Lymphatic Drainage FAQs

As the weather heats up, those who suffer from swelling often find their problems worsening. Fortunately, lymphatic drainage can provide relief and encourage healthy circulation.

Sarah Trost, physiotherapist at Body & Soul, assists Shanghai residents with wellness, rehabilitation and pain management. She specializes in manual lymphatic drainage for patients suffering from lymphedema. She shares how lymphatic drainage works and answers some common questions.

What is lymphatic drainage?

Manual lymphatic drainage is a type of gentle, targeted massage used to encourage drainage of the lymphatic system, which carries waste products away from the tissues. It is a highly effective treatment for chronic edema (swelling).

What causes lymphedema (AKA edema)?

The lymphatic system is an important part of our circulatory system, processing large amounts of body fluid and filtering waste products, bacteria and viruses. The lymph system depends on the contractions of the smooth muscle cells in the walls of lymph vessels and the movement of skeletal muscles to propel fluid through the vessels to lymph nodes and on to the heart.

When this system cannot process the fluids, whether due to primary edema (inborn problems of the lymphatic system) or secondary edema caused by injury or illness, a person develops swelling. Without intervention, this can become severe and lead to complications.

Who typically needs manual lymphatic drainage?

Edema may be caused by cancer treatment related to the lymph nodes. Shanghai cancer patients are often referred to me for lymphatic drainage. Most doctors and nurses are aware of the potential problems of edemas and encourage patients to get treatment early. If left too long the swollen area can become hard (and result in skin deterioration and loss of movement) due to the waste combining with proteins between cells. Insurance generally covers this treatment.

Anyone with vein or blood vessel problems may experience edema, often in the feet and lower legs. Pressure socks help reduce day-to-day swelling, but patients may need lymphatic drainage periodically. Since the lymphatic system resides primarily near the skin’s surface, someone who’s experienced an injury to a large part of the skin’s surface often develops edema.

What is done during treatment and how does it feel to the patient?

Manual lymphatic drainage consists of a gentle type of massage, using a specific amount of pressure and motions to stimulate lymph flow. The aim of the massage is to move fluid from the swollen area into an area where the lymphatic system is working normally. It feels like a very gentle massage to the area.

If you are suffering from swelling, Contact Body & Soul to make a consultation appointment with Sarah Trost and discuss how medical massage could benefit

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