Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling (oedema). It commonly affects one of the arms or legs. In some cases, both arms or both legs may be affected.

Experts believe primary lymphedema is caused by a genetic mutation. Secondary Lymphedema can be caused by other conditions such as infection, cancer treatments and inflammatory disease.

Lymphedema is incurable, but with the right treatment, it can be controlled.

Treatment includes:

  1. Remedial exercises: Light exercises aimed at encouraging movement of the lymph fluid out of the limb.

  2. Skincare: Good skincare reduces the risks of skin infections, such as cellulitis.

  3. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD): special massage techniques to move fluid into working lymph nodes, where they are drained. .

  4. Multilayer lymphedema bandaging (MLLB): Wrapped over muscles surrounding lymph vessels and nodes to help the fluid move through the lymphatic system.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage - MLD

There are different types of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). They include Vodder, Földi, and Casley-Smith - You should only have MLD from a specially trained therapist in one of these types.

How it works - The aim of MLD is to move fluid from the swollen area into a place where the lymphatic system is working normally. Specialised skin movements are used to clear the area that they want the fluid to drain into. It might seem strange to have skin movements on your chest and neck if you have lymphoedema in your arm. But it means that the fluid has somewhere to drain to when the therapist treats your arm.

MLD uses a gentle pumping action on top of the skin. Skin movements are very light so that the small lymph vessels are not flattened. Flattened lymph vessels would prevent lymph fluid from draining. The movements are slow and rhythmic so that the lymph vessels open up.

The number of treatments you have depends on the type of MLD and what you need. Your specialist will also take into account the amount of swelling you have and how long you have had it for.

Capri Clark is the founder of Bayside Remedial Massage and Healing in Brisbane. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Nursing and a Diploma in Remedial Massage and is a certified MLD therapist specialising in the Vodder Technique.

Capri's gentle techniques bring a huge amount of care and skill to her treatments.

If you would like to book in for a session with Capri, you can click here.