Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a technique designed to reduce the excess swelling (edema) that occurs  in acute and chronic injuries, post-surgery, and even during pregnancy. If left untreated, this excess swelling can organize into scar tissue. The reduction of this swelling is important to optimal healing as it prevents the excess fluid from organizing into excess scar tissue. Manual Lymphatic Drainage was developed in the 1930′s by a Danish physiotherapist Emil Vodder. MLD is effective in reducing swelling and thus the formation of excess scar tissue due to edema in cases of acute or subacute trauma or post-surgery. This technique involves the use of  slow, repetitive, rhythmical strokes along specific lymphatic drainage pathways to decrease edema (swelling) and pain perception by encouraging lymphatic flow and drainage along internal lymphatic channels. Lymph is a clear fluid (essentially blood plasma that has been filtered out of capillaries) that is an important part of the immune system and inflammatory response. In cases of acute or subacute trauma or post-surgery, having excess lymph (swelling/ edema) drained back into internal lymphatic channels can reduce pain and decrease formation of scar tissue. The lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s immune response and is also responsible for circulating fluid that has filtered out of capillaries, back into circulation.  The lymphatic system carries lymph (a clear fluid- essentially blood plasma that had filtered out of capillaries) back to the heart and in combination with lymph nodes and other lymphatic organs, is essential to immune function. This system is largely passive, and relies on skeletal muscles and the diaphragm to move lymphatic fluid through the body’s network of lymphatic vessels.

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