The lymph system is an invisible system that keeps us all healthy. Without the lymph system, our bodies would become balloon-like and swell with stagnant fluid. Many people don’t realize the lymph system. They may not be aware that minor aches, pains, energy loss or susceptibility to colds and flu could be caused by a slow lymph system and compromised immune system.
Lymph vessels create an intimate meshwork which covers every inch of the skin and surrounds each organ with great detail. In the initial lymphatic, the lymph vessels begin very small. More than 70% of the initial lymphatics originate in the skin. One cell thick, the initial lymphatic is delicate. Connective tissue with collagen and elastin fibres holds these cells in place. The filaments can deform the first lymphatic wall by releasing pressure from the interstitial space. The channel is then opened up by the fluid flowing in. This is when we call it lymph. Even though lymph is only filtered through by the lymph system every 2-3 litres per day, this is essential because it removes proteins too large to pass through the capillary wall. Guyton and Hall, Human Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease 6th Edition, W.B Saunders Company Philadelphia 1997, page 139). The lymphatic spaces are four to six times larger than those in the capillaries. Because they draw water to themselves, protein must be removed. Excess protein can cause swelling or oedema. The lymph vessels also collect dead cells and waste products and bacteria, viruses, inorganic substances, and water.
If we do lymphatic drainage massage correctly, it can stimulate the opening and increase the lymph flow up to 20 times. If we push too hard, the initial lymphatic can collapse, decreasing the lymph flow. The filaments that keep the initial lymphatic in its place can be broken if you apply too much pressure. Deep massage is not recommended in areas with oedema. If any filaments are broken by deep pressure, they will usually revert within 24 hours.
Once the lymph has reached the initial lymphatic, it moves into the larger vessel known as the pre-collector and then into larger vessels known as the collectors. Collectors measure between 100 and 600 microns in size. The vessels only allow lymph to flow in one direction and have one-way valves every 6- 20mm. You don’t have to worry about your clients getting hurt by a lymphatic drainage massage. The lymph can’t flow backwards. It won’t work if you push in the wrong direction, but it will not hurt your client unless deep pressure is used.
All lymph vessels eventually lead to lymph nodes. The size of lymph nodes can vary from as small as a pin’s head to as large as an olive. There are between 400 and 700 lymph nodes within the body. Half of them are in the abdomen, while many others are in the neck.
Lymph nodes are responsible for filtering and purifying lymph. The lymph nodes produce different types of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are an important part of the immune system. They destroy harmful substances and protect the body. The lymph nodes absorb about 40% of the lymph fluid. This results in thicker lymph. The lymph nodes provide the best resistance to lymph flow because of the thickening and filtering process. The lymph nodes offer 15 times greater resistance than the vessels. Lymphatic drainage can be used to overcome this resistance and get your lymph moving.
The nutrients, oxygen, and proteins that flow through the capillaries to the interstitial fluid nourish each cell. The forces that allow nutrients to exit the capillaries and get reabsorbed into the bloodstream create a dynamic balance. Because proteins draw water from themselves, they play an important role in this transfer. It is important to have the right amount of protein on each side of the capillary walls to maintain the tissue balance. Fluid will build up in the interstitial spaces with too much protein. Oedema can be controlled by the lymph system, which removes proteins. Oedema can occur if the lymph system is slow or damaged by surgery to remove lymph nodes. This is known as lymphatic oedema or high-protein oedema. This type of edema can be reduced by lymphatic drainage. The cause is a decreased functioning of the lymph system.
Lymphatic drainage massage can be a powerful technique to increase lymph flow. Immunity function can be improved by increasing lymph flow. Harmful substances are eliminated from the tissues and neutralized by the nodes. A study has shown that lymph flow increases can stimulate lymphocyte production, which in turn enhances immune function.
A group of healthcare practitioners should be trained in lymph drainage, bandaging, and other modalities for patients with severe edema. Massage therapists are able to improve the health of clients by understanding contraindications, and reducing minor cases of edema.
This treatment can be used for clients suffering from low energy or an impaired immune system.
When working with clients suffering from sports injuries, lymphatic drainage massage can also be useful. After the initial inflammation has passed, lymphatic therapy can be performed. This will clear the tissue from any debris and reduce minor swelling that can occur after deep massage. The client’s healing process can be aided by continued lymphatic drainage.
Lymphatic drainage massage is generally safe. The risk of tissue damage is minimal with such a gentle touch. There are some conditions that may be contraindicated. These are situations where an increase in lymph flow could cause damage to the tissue. If you are unsure about treating someone, it is best to seek clearance from their physician. Lymphatic drainage massage is not recommended for people with severe heart conditions, acute inflammation, malignant tumors, thrombosis, and major cardiovascular problems. Let’s take a look at each one.
It is not recommended to treat acute inflammation due to bacteria, viruses, poisons, or allergens. If this is true, the tissues will become red, hot and painful with fever-accompanied congestion. These substances will be pushed into the lymph vessels by lymphatic drainage massage before they can be eliminated through phagocytosis. You can spread toxic substances throughout your body by performing lymphatic drainage. You should wait a few days before the condition becomes more serious and your body can clean up the affected area.
Because of the risk of spreading cancer, malignant tumors should not be considered for lymphatic drainage massage. Lymphatic drainage massage should be performed only after malignancy has been treated.
Two conditions that can cause free floating blood clots are thrombosis or phlebitis. These conditions are most common in people who have to be hospitalized on blood thinners. These patients should not be treated if you work in a hospital. One sign of possible femoral embolism in your practice is a client experiencing pain in one side of their legs and sudden swelling and discoloration of their skin. People who are chronically bedridden are more likely to develop thrombosis in their legs.
Major heart problems. The lymphodynamic effect of an insufficient venous return can lead to a heart problem. The condition could be made worse by putting more fluid in the heart.