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Lymphatic Drainage Massage for a Cancer Patient

     Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LMD) is intended to encourage the natural circulation of the lymph through the body.  The lymph system depends on intrinsic contractions of the smooth muscle cells in the walls of lymph vessels and the movement of muscles to propel lymph through the vessels to lymph nodes and then beyond the lymph nodes to the lymph ducts which return lymph to the cardiovascular system. Manual lymph drainage uses a very light pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate lymph flow.

     I have been doing Lymphatic Drainage for a couple of years now; ever since a friend of mine became pregnant with her first child.  The reason for that was because she gained an excess of fluid in her legs during her pregnancy.  An excess of fluid is called edema.  You know you have it when you can poke yourself and leave an indent.  It is essentially water that has gotten stored among your muscles because there's a block in the filtering system of your body.

     Well, I was recently asked if Lymphatic Drainage would be beneficial to someone going through cancer.  The inquirer explained that her sister has been dealing with cancer for a while, and her arms and legs are so swollen that it hurts to move.  She is currently seeing an Acupuncturist, but has been left in pain after several treatments.  I told her that LMD may help to decrease the swelling, or edema, in her arms and legs, but it would in no way cure her of cancer.  And I further explained that LMD uses a gentle and very light touch to stimulate this fluid system, enhancing its natural rhythmic flow to hydrate tissues and alleviate stagnation. It’s gentle, relaxing treatment that concentrates on the Lymphatic System activates the circulation of the tissues, and stimulates the immune and parasympathetic nervous systems.  For this reason, any patient, especially cancer patients, can benefit from lymph drainage as part of a general detoxification program. Manual lymph drainage is extremely gentle and feels wonderful and relaxing.

     She spoke with her sister about it, and then told me it would be great to make an appointment.  So, I'll be seeing her this weekend.  I feel this will be a "trial and error" sort of thing.  To be honest, I have never worked on a cancer patient before (at least not that I'm aware of), but I'll only be working on her arms and legs; no where else.  And I'll be asking about her physician and what sort of treatment regimen he/she has her on.  I don't want to overstep my boundaries; if LMD is something her physician is not comfortable with then I won't treat her.  But I am very interested in seeing if this will help her at all, even if it is only to reduce the edema in her extremities.  I would imagine that once the swelling decreases her overall well-being will increase.  Hopefully she won't be in so much pain anymore.

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Comment by Jennie Degen on December 7, 2011 at 1:11pm

That is definitely a typo.  Thank you for pointing that out to me, I'm going to edit it out completely.  The woman stated she only wanted her extremities done.  And time was an issue, but when I see her this weekend I plan on discussing everything with her in depth, so I can get a better understanding of what is going on.

Comment by Daniel Cohen on December 7, 2011 at 12:54pm

Is that a typo "ounces"? over a half pound per inch would be a lot of pressure. 9 grams is 1/3 of an ounce. Are you referring to deep lymphatic or superficial?

I am curious as to why you will only work on the arms and legs if the treating physician approves lymphatic massage for the patient. I have worked on many cancer patients and unless the reason is lymphodema  of the extremities and time is limited I always work full body. Of course it may be regional depending on type, location, and stage.

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