NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST 

MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE  (MLD) THERAPIST                         

 

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LYMPHOEDEMA & MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE

Lymphoedema is a swelling that can affect any part of the body, although it is most commonly seen in an arm or leg. This condition develops when the lymph system, the delicate vessels of the draining nodes can no longer work effectively, because it has become damaged or its function is impaired. As a consequence, there is a build up of fluid, protein and waste products in the tissues, causing changes in the skin and surrounding tissues. The skin becomes dry and thickened; the affected part feels tight and firm. The limb may feel heavy and can often ache.

Lymphoedema can be described as being Primary and Secondary.  

 

Primary Lymphoedema is either congenital or spontaneous; it is result of an inherited abnormality of the lymphatic and venous system. Lymphoedema may be present from birth or can develop in young adulthood or even later in life.

 

Secondary Lymphoedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system. It can develop as a result of:

Mastectomy – surgical removal of the breast and breast nodes

Hysterectomy – surgical removal of the womb and abdominal nodes

Radiotherapy – radiation treatment used exclusively for cancer patient.

Chemotherapy – intravenous injection to treat tumours.

 Injury/accident – destruction of the lymph nodes

Infection – damage to the nodes of the infected area

Immobility – impairment of the lymph vessels and hence the nodes.  

During mastectomy or hysterectomy the nearby cancerous lymph nodes can be removed surgically; thereafter, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy are used to stop the spreading of the damaged cells.  The Surgery, chemo and radio may cause swelling, pain and  mis-shapen arms and legs. Lymphatic drainage helps to redirect the fluid to the functioning part of the system. It is strongly recommended that patients have MLD immediately after surgery or radiotherapy to help prevent and control development of Lymphoedema.

The Therapy of Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema

During the initial consultation the medical history is taken. The swollen and the healthy limb are measured and the difference is recorded by percentage. Initially it is advisable to have treatments for 2-3 weeks on a daily basis (considering the severity of the swelling); thereafter the treatment interval varies according to the body’s response. Most sessions last 50 minutes. After MLD the limb is gently bandaged by 3M Coban 2 bandages or a simple compressive stocking or sleeve is worn.  

Kinesiotaping – Recommended to clients who refuse to wear multi layer bandages or compressive garments.  This is a special taping procedure that helps to direct the access fluid to the healthy lymph channels, thus reducing the fluid build up. This new technique originated in Japan in 1980's and apparently has quite amazing results in the treatment of muscle injuries, swelling  and lymphoedema.  The tape is waterproof, allowing patients to bath or shower.  Does not contain latex, therefore reduces the risk of skin allergies.  When the tape is applied in a correct tension the underlying initial lymphatic vessels are stimulated, therefore the fluid (the Lymph) is directed to the correct channels.

MLD & Good Health

With the background of nutritional therapy and long experience in treating Lymphoedema better and quicker results are achieved if the patient follows a specific diet programme, which will be discussed during the consultation. Special exercise and skin care programme is discussed to maximise the results of MLD and good health. A Lymphoedema recommendation guideline is given to every single patient.