A lymphatic drainage massage a day keeps the doctor at bay. Lymphoedema is said to affect at least 100,000 people in the UK and there could be as many as 3 million cases in the US. Despite this, not many people are aware of the condition. If you’re one of those suffering and looking for an answer, Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) could be an option.
Lymphoedema is the swelling of part of the body – usually an arm or a leg – due to the build up of fluid in the body tissues. This particular treatment generally consists of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), layered bandages or compression garments, exercises and skin care. MLD is a very specialised massage aiming to stimulate the fluid away from the affected area. It’s very gentle and completely different from other forms of massage, so should only be carried out by a registered therapist.
The bandages or compression garments are necessary to prevent the area becoming swollen again. These garments are worn during the day while you’re moving around and are then swapped for bandages at night.
A set of exercises should be advised by a therapist to try and maximise drainage. These have to be quite specific as over-exertion could cause the swelling to worsen.
Lymphoedema can cause the skin to become very dry and likely to crack, so a lotion or cream is usually advised to keep the tissues in good condition.
MLD is usually performed every day for 2-4 weeks, depending on the circumstances, after which the treatment is more reliant on the individual.
CDT is offered as a treatment to those with primary (usually from birth) or secondary (as a result of surgery or other physical problem) Lymphoedema.
CDT may also be effective in treating lipoedema (excess deposit of fat cells in an unusual pattern) and phleboedema (collection of fluid due to the inability of the veins to pump blood around the body effectively).