Lymphatic Decongestive Therapy and Manual Lymphatic Drainage for Mastectomy, Lumpectomy, Radiation and Breast Cancer Surgery in
Posted Jan 05 2012 12:43pm
As a Lymphatic Drainage Therapist, I work with a large client base of Women who have had mastectomies, lympectomies with the removal and/or radiation of the axillary lymph nodes as a result of breast cancer surgery.
I'd like to share a few techniques and therapies that I utilize with my electro-lymphatic therapy tool that helps to drain unilateral lyumphedema on the upper torso (arms, chest and neck).
It is very important in the treatment of unilateral secondary upper extremity lymphedema,especially in cases where lymph node groups are removed and/or radiated to incorporate deep lymphatic drainage therapy techniques. Manual lymphatic drainage therapy only impacts the superficial lymphatic system and it becomes extremely important for the deeper lymphatic system to be drained. Often it is required to utilize anastomosis on the affected side to create new lymphatic pathways for enhanced drainage.
A common question we hear with new clients is how long will I need to wear my compression garments and how many treatments will I need before my arm and side swelling goes down? With lymphedema, if an extremity is considerably swollen, it is not recommended to treat the entire extremity during one setting. It is imperative that clients wear their compression garments as directed. We will recommend a variety of at home based therapies clients can do on their own to also enhance the flow of lymphatic fluid. A treatment plan would proceed in steps to prevent overload of the healthy lymphatics in the drainage areas. For many of my clients who have had mastectomies, there are often pockets of tight severe swelling around the shoulder, around the scar/surgery site of the breast and often under the side of the breast bone. In these cases, we will incorporate several treatments that first address the swollen pockets to reduce the lymphatic overload and as the flow moves - we can then work the upper arm and then past the elbow.
Often there will be pockets of lymphatic fluid pooling along the outer arm and along the elbow, in these cases we will push the fluid via our tool and traditional manual lymphatic drainage techniques to redirect flow via the anastomosis up the arm towards the lymph nodes in the clavical and neck region. Often we will also push the fluid to the back and then open the thoracic duct in the abdomen to release the fluid.
It's an amazing process and we can actually visualize fluid reduction occurring instantaneously. Clients report regaining feeling and a reduction in the numbness and puffy, stuffy and swollen feeling in their limbs.
If you suffer from lymphedema or swelling/water retention- lymphatic drainage therapy is an essential ingredient on your path towards wellness. Our goal is to initially help our client's bodies manage lymphatic flow by creating lymphatic movement and assisting the body in restablishing lymphatic pathways. Over time, we seek to see our clients on a maintenance only schedule once pathways are created and lymphatic fluid movement is consistent.