Traditional Massage vs Lymphatic Massage

Traditional Massage vs Lymphatic Massage

At Healing Kneads, we’re constantly looking for alternative ways of alleviating pain and bringing relief to our clients. We offer several specialized therapies that new clients may not have heard of or are less familiar with. One of these therapies is manual lymph drainage (MLD), commonly known as lymphatic massage. 

What does MLD look like, how does it help, and what it can be used for? It is very different from traditional massage therapy, so it’s definitely worth understanding in a little more detail!

What is Lymphatic Massage?

In some ways, it isn’t really a massage at all, but a gentle skin technique used to help the lymphatic system remove waste and stagnant lymph. Issues of lymph build up can be caused by trauma to the body and is common after surgery. Manual lymph drainage works by applying gentle pressure to the lymph vessels located just under the skin, which stimulates these vessels to work better.

What Is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system is a network of lymph vessels acting as the body’s cleaning and refuse service. Lymph vessels help eliminate waste products, excess proteins, and toxins or impurities like bacteria. The clear fluid that we describe as lymph is the conduit for the body’s white blood cells, responsible for carrying out the cleaning. 

How Can It Help Me?

This type of massage is usually used to get rid of swelling from excess lymph fluid that occurs after trauma, accidents, injuries, or surgery. We see many post-op clients who have developed swelling, bruising or lumpy fibrosis after surgery. Lymphatic massage reduces all of these and speeds up the healing process!

Traditional vs Lymphatic Massage

When we think of conventional massage, we usually think of Swedish and deep tissue, which use long, kneading strokes to apply pressure to muscles. Traditional massage focuses on specific areas of tension or pain and getting down to a deeper layer in the body.

Lymphatic massage is far gentler and uses far less pressure. We don’t use oil or lotion, and MLD isn’t targeting muscles at all, but rather engaging, moving, and stimulating the lymphatic network.

While traditional massage can be excellent for relieving muscle tension and encouraging oxygen flow in the blood, massage that specifically addresses the lymphatic system is a better option for reducing swelling or recovering from surgery. It’s also effective at improving the immune system and promoting overall bodily health. 

Visit Us at Healing Kneads Massage Therapy

To learn more about lymphatic massage, click here.

If you are ready to try lymphatic massage for yourself, book an appointment here with one of our therapists. We are licensed by the state of Florida and have over 25 years of combined experience!

 

Breast Cancer and Lymphedema

Breast Cancer and Lymphedema

What’s lymphedema? That’s the question I most commonly get when I tell people that I’m a Lymphedema Therapist. After seeing their perplexed expressions, I explain what lymphedema is, then I explain why I’m so passionate about helping breast cancer survivors manage their lymphedema. 

 

What is the relationship between breast cancer and lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling and accumulation of fluid that can develop in the arm, hand, breast, or torso as a side effect of breast cancer surgery and/or radiation treatment. Some women can develop lymphedema months or even years following their surgeries. 

Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates throughout the body to remove waste, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Lymphedema occurs when too much lymph accumulates in one area of the body. When people are treated for breast cancer, the treatment often damages their lymphatic system, which makes it difficult for it to filter waste efficiently. When cancer patients undergo mastectomies, lymph nodes are commonly removed. Likewise, radiation can damage a healthy lymphatic system.

Breast cancer survivors often see lymphedema develop in the arm and hand, since many of our lymph nodes are located in the armpit area. However, sometimes I see it develop in the breast, underarm, chest, trunk, and/or back. 

Lymphedema usually develops gradually, but you can feel unusual sensations – like tingling or numbness, that comes and goes before any visible swelling happens. Other early signs of lymphedema are feeling of fullness, tightness, and less flexibility in the hand, arm, chest, and breast. It has no cure but can be managed. Early treatment is important, so you should tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms after cancer treatment. 

What if you didn’t know about lymphedema?

If you already have lymphedema, but do not remember being told about it during your breast cancer treatment, you are not alone. As a lymphedema therapist, I hear clients say quite often that they don’t remember the doctor mentioning lymphedema as a possible side effect.

I’ve lost close family members to breast cancer, so I can say from personal experience that the time right after hearing that you have the C word is a blur. After hearing you have cancer, you start considering and planning treatment. You feel anxious and overwhelmed, and it may be hard to hear everything being said. I remember seeing the doctor’s mouth moving, but not hearing him. I could only hear my internal conversations, my bargaining with God. If lymphedema is mentioned, you may not remember it, or you first want to focus on getting well and surviving. Accepting the fact that you have cancer, undergoing the necessary treatments, can feel insurmountable at times. There is a lot of emotional and physical pain that goes along with it.

After finishing all that, hearing that you now have lymphedema, may seem like another insult to your body… one that you are not prepared for. “Here we go again,” you may think. The good news is that lymphedema can be managed, and you can lead a rewarding, normal life. Finding a qualified and compassionate lymphedema therapist is your first step towards proper management of your lymphedema. Your treatment with your lymphedema therapist will include manual lymph drainage (MLD), compression and/or bandaging, exercise and skin care.

Healing mind and body through lymphedema treatment

It’s very rewarding to see clients’ feel better, and gain confidence as we get their swelling down. When they first come in, they seem worn, tired, and in a lot of pain. The pain they feel is not always in their limbs, but in their hearts and minds. I understand the battles they’ve fought, and I love seeing the difference we’ve made together. It’s not really about lymphedema or textbook definitions of their condition. It’s about feeling and living well. For one memorable client of mine, it was about being able to wear her wedding ring for the first time in years. It’s about having dignity and being honored as a human being. 

Helping breast cancer survivors and lymphedema warriors is personal to me. I’ve loved and lost people to the disease, and now I get the chance to make a difference in the lives of other cancer survivors. I love what I do. 

Lymphedema treatment at Healing Kneads Massage Therapy in Lake Mary, Florida

At Healing Kneads Massage our therapists have received training from the Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS), in both MLD and Lymphedema Management. We have the skills to provide expert care, and the compassion to provide the care in a safe, compassionate way. We offer free phone consults as well, to answer any questions you may have about your treatment or our credentials.

Want to learn more about how massage therapy can help with lymphedema treatment?

Call us today at 407-761-7417!

We can’t wait to meet you and help you recover!

 

Laura is the founder of Healing Kneads. She graduated from Florida College of Natural Health in 2012 and is passionate about helping people find rejuvenation and renewal amidst the stresses of life, and relief from the pains that show up in their bodies because of that stress. She believes in the mind-body connection and believes every body has the potential for wellness and balance. Laura has helped clients with various issues, including neck and jaw pain, headaches, Lipedema, and Lymphedema.

She is licensed by the Florida Department of Health, and holds certifications in Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, cupping, and neuromuscular massage.

Together with her team of therapists, she creates customized massage sessions that help each client reach their unique goals.

Why It’s Important to Find a Qualified Lymphedema Therapist

Why It’s Important to Find a Qualified Lymphedema Therapist

 

Why It’s Important to Find a Qualified Lymphedema Therapist

If you are at risk for lymphedema or are already experiencing swelling it is important to establish a relationship with a qualified lymphedema therapist. The gold standard for treating lymphedema when swelling is present is called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). Since every body is different and the lymphatic system is complete, CDT will vary for each individual. CDT often includes:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
  • wrapping in bandages
  • compression garments
  • lymphatic breathing/exercises
  • skin care
  • an introduction to lymphedema self-care routines

Treatments are generally three times a week for 6 to 8 weeks. The goal is to enter a maintenance phase, where compression garments are worn instead of bandaging, and patients can maintain their wellness with self-care routines at home.

Look for Credentials

Licensed massage therapists, physical therapists and physicians are eligible to receive training to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, which is a 135 hour program including a written and hands on exam, that leads to certification. It is important to note that lymphatic massage or MLD alone, is not the same as CDT.

To be effective, lymphedema treatment should include MLD and compression. That’s why it’s called complete decongestive care. Many massage therapists receive training in their initial massage training in lymphatic drainage, but it is not the same as lymphedema treatment. Please check the credentials of the healthcare provider you select; as their training will have a big impact on your wellness, along with your safety and effectiveness of your sessions. 

How to Screen your Candidates

To find a qualified lymphedema therapist that’s a good fit for you, I suggest calling at least three therapists and asking these questions on the phone before scheduling an appointment:

  • Where did you receive your training?
  • What is your background? (PT? LMT? MD?)
  • What would a typical session look like? 
  • Why did you become a lymphedema therapist?

Resources for You

My alma mater is Academy of Lymphatic Studies, but there are several reputable educational institutions that certify therapists to treat lymphedema patients. Not all graduates of these programs chose to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. To find a qualified lymphedema therapist near you from any of these reputable schools, use the school directories listed below.

Dr. Vodder School International

Dr. Vodder School International therapists have been trained in CDT and MLD and have either updated or completed their training within the past two years. To find a Vodder School therapist scroll below Courses then Find A Professional.

Klose Training

Klose offers a 135 hour course that teaches the skills and knowledge necessary to safely and effectively treat patients with lymphedema using MLD and CDT. They offer a directory of local therapists.

Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS)

ACOLS offers a 135 hour certification training for healthcare professionals to safely and effectively treat and manage lymphedema using MLD and CDT.

MLD Institute International 

The MLD Institute International provides certification and continuing education to massage and medical professionals in MLD only, not CDT. This would be appropriate if you are in maintenance phase and only require MLD.

Healing Kneads Massage

At Healing Kneads Massage Therapy, our therapists have received training from the Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS), in both MLD and Lymphedema Management. We have the skills to provide expert care, and the compassion to provide the care in a safe, compassionate way. We offer free phone consults as well, to answer any questions you may have about your treatment or our credentials. Learn more about our therapists here.

Want to learn more about how massage therapy can help with lymphedema treatment?

Book a call with Laura today!

We can’t wait to partner with you in your recovery!

Skin Care Do’s and Don’ts for Lymphedema of the Arm

Skin Care Do’s and Don’ts for Lymphedema of the Arm

Skin Care Do’s and Don’ts for Lymphedema of the Arm

For breast cancer survivors and others affected by lymphedema, my bottom line advice for self-care is this: avoid skin injury and irritation to the affected arm. 

The human body reacts to injury by producing fluid. We’ve all experienced edema or swelling of some type in our lives. It’s a healthy and natural response as our body promptly jumps into action to protect us, and to start the healing process. We swell up, and may even develop bruises. This edema is temporary and we usually see it dissipate after a week. However, for someone whose lymphatic system has been compromised by surgery or radiation, this fluid is impeded and stays put in surrounding tissue. The end result is lymphedema, not edema. Since this fluid contains protein, the skin is especially susceptible to serious infection. 

As a Lymphedema Therapist, I spend a lot of time educating clients about the importance of skin care, as a slight irritation to the skin could cause a serious infection. A minor cut, scrape, or insect bite is insignificant to those with healthy lymphatic and immune systems, but those with lymphedema should pay special attention to protecting your skin. I’ve compiled this list of dos and do nots that I hope you will find helpful. 

Skin Care

  • Keep your skin meticulously clean and check frequently for any cracks, infections or rashes
  • Moisturize your skin daily
  • Use a low pH lotions only, such as Eucerin and Aquaphor
  • Dry your skin gently with a soft towel; pat dry, do not scrub
  • Avoid cosmetics that irritate your skin
  • If you are undergoing radiation, apply the ointments recommended by your physician to any radiation redness

Clothing-Jewelry-Compression Sleeve

  • Avoid clothing that is too tight or restrictive. Wear comfortable bras with wide shoulder straps
  • Do not wear tight jewelry and avoid elastic bands around your wrist
  • Wear your compression sleeve or bandages all day

Avoid Injuries to the Skin

  • Shaving: use an electric shaver instead of razor blades to shave your armpit
  • Nail care: keep your nails short, do not cut cuticles, avoid fake nails 
  • Wear gloves when gardening or playing with your pet (to avoid scratches)
  • Mosquito bites: wear insect repellant and avoid mosquito infested areas
  • Injections and blood draws: whenever possible, have these done on the non-affected limb. If both arms are affected, request blood to be drawn on the leg or foot (outside of emergencies)
  • Avoid blood pressure to be taken on the affected arm. 
  • To care for minor injuries, always carry an alcohol swab, an antibiotic, and Band-Aid
  • No piercing or tattoos on the arm, back or chest.

See your Doctor is you:

  • see any signs of infection, such as red or hot skin, fever and chills
  • notice any itching, rash, infections, or any other unusual changes on the skin
  • experience pain or increased swelling that will not go down

At Healing Kneads Massage we are proud to provide expert, compassionate, and professional massage therapy services to our community. Our approach to wellness is a holistic one, and we treat each client as they truly are: unique. We are unique ourselves in that we value our clients very much, and are extremely results and client-focused. We listen to our clients, customize each and every session to meet YOUR wellness goals, and perform full 60 or 90-minute sessions. 

Want to learn more about how massage therapy can help with lymphedema treatment?

Book a call with Laura today!

We can’t wait to meet you and help you recover!

Laura is the founder of Healing Kneads. She graduated from Florida College of Natural Health in 2012 and is passionate about helping people find rejuvenation and renewal amidst the stresses of life, and relief from the pains that show up in their bodies because of that stress. She believes in the mind-body connection and believes every body has the potential for wellness and balance. Laura has helped clients with various issues, including neck and jaw pain, headaches, Lipedema, and Lymphedema.

She is licensed by the Florida Department of Health, and holds certifications in Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, cupping, and neuromuscular massage.  

 

How Lymphedema is Treated

How Lymphedema is Treated

How Lymphedema is Treated

COMPLETE DECONGESTIVE THERAPY (CDT) 

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is considered to be the gold standard of lymphedema treatment, and is in two phases.

PHASE 1

Phase 1 is known as intensive treatment. During this phase, the patient is seen daily by a lymphedema therapist, and usually wears bandages, or wrapping for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. This phase typically lasts 2-4 weeks, with the primary goal of this phase to reduce swelling in the affected limb. 

PHASE 2

Phase 2 is known as the maintenance phase. During this phase, the patient takes over the responsibility of performing the daily tasks performed in phase 1, that are necessary to control the lymphedema. These treatments include self massage to move the stagnant lymph out of the tissues, wearing compression garments to prevent the swelling from returning again, skin care to maintain the health and prevent infections, and exercise to maintain lymph flow. 

MASSAGE TECHNIQUES

The purpose of gentle massage performed on the skin is to gently guide excess fluid out of the swollen area, so that it can return to the bloodstream. This technique is Manual Lymph Drainage, and should only be performed by a MLD therapist certified in the Vodder Method of MLD. 

COMPRESSION METHODS

The use of compression, at all times, is an important factor in the successful management of Lymphedema. The goals of compression are to:

  • Maintain the progress made during your massage (MLD) sessions
  • Prevent additional swelling
  • Support natural draining of lymph from the tissues.

CARE OF SKIN, NAILS AND FEET

Proper daily skin care is essential, to prevent infections, as Lymphedema patients are more susceptible to skin infections. 

EXERCISES

  • Daily exercise is essential to: 
  • Maintain the flow of lymph
  • Increase the mobility of joints and muscles
  • Maintain general health
  • Control weight, and to 
  • Improve the patient’s sense of well-being.

All these components are important in successfully managing lymphedema, and a Lymphedema Therapist can expertly help. 

At Healing Kneads Massage we are proud to provide expert, compassionate, and professional massage therapy services to our community. Our approach to wellness is a holistic one, and we treat each client as they truly are: unique. We are unique ourselves in that we value our clients very much, and are extremely results and client-focused. We listen to our clients, customize each and every session to meet YOUR wellness goals, and perform full 60 or 90-minute sessions. 

Want to learn more about how massage therapy can help with lymphedema treatment?

Book a call with Laura today!

We can’t wait to meet you and help you recover!

Laura is the founder of Healing Kneads. She graduated from Florida College of Natural Health in 2012 and is passionate about helping people find rejuvenation and renewal amidst the stresses of life, and relief from the pains that show up in their bodies because of that stress. She believes in the mind-body connection and believes every body has the potential for wellness and balance. Laura has helped clients with various issues, including neck and jaw pain, headaches, Lipedema, and Lymphedema.

She is licensed by the Florida Department of Health, and holds certifications in Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, cupping, and neuromuscular massage.