Patients with lymphedema or other problems with the draining of the lymph system understand the management of the condition is critical for their health and well-being. The use of manual lymph drainage therapy or MLD is typically recommended for a wide range of patients and is considered the most effective treatment option available today for the treatment of lymphedema.
To be able to provide manual lymph drainage therapy for a patient a medical health professional must complete specific training in addition to their basic therapy courses. Depending on the specific of services they will be providing for patients, this can be a 40-hour course on using the therapeutic method, or a complete certification for lymphedema which will be 135 hours of additional training.
The History of MLD
As a therapeutic option, manual lymph drainage therapy has been used for almost a hundred years. It was first developed by a Danish doctor, Emil Vodder, in reaction to the signs of lymph node swelling noted in patients with chronic sinusitis and reoccurring colds.
He developed a technique of applying light pressure in specific patterns of movement over the skin to stimulate the flow of lymph through the system. This early development of manual lymph drainage therapy was first introduced to the medical community in France in 1936.
Dr. Vodder completed four years of research on manual lymph drainage therapy before bringing it forward to his peers, and the research has continued into the effectiveness of this treatment.
While originally developed for sinusitis, today manual lymph drainage therapy is used for reducing swelling due to trauma, care after breast cancer treatment, fibromyalgia, and for those suffering with complex regional pain syndrome. It is indicated for use in additional issues where edema is problematic.
With new imaging techniques and advanced technology, researchers are able to demonstrate the changes in the body when MLD is used with patients. The response of the body includes an initial slight narrowing of vessels during the gentle stretching of the skin, followed by an increase in the volume of blood to the small vessels at the skin’s surface. This increase in blood flow and systemic hand movements of the therapist triggered an increase of lymph in lymphatic collectors and a decrease in the edema in the affected area.
Using manual lymph drainage therapy is highly effective for many patients. Today, doctors prescribe this treatment as the primary way to assist patients experiencing drainage problems within the lymphatic system.
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