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Manual Lymphatic Drainage

What Can I Do?

There are many YouTube videos showing self-massage for lymphatic drainage for upper, lower and neck lymphoedema. What I have found however is that a lot of videos concentrate on moving the lymphatic fluid through the lymph vessels to lymph nodes which is fine if you have them. If not, then you have to move the fluid around the area where the lymph nodes have been removed as well, which is where abdominal compressions & deep breathing are important. Slow compressions of lymph vessels helps to encourage the fluid from one vessel to the next. (see Lymph Transport section) When clearing of the lymph vessels occur upstream, lymph fluid can then flow from the interstitial space into the lymph capillaries then lymph vessels. Excess interstitial fluid can be moved through dry brushing toward the abdomen around the blockage to areas where it can be taken up by other lymph capillaries/vessels, together with deep breathing & exercise.


Self-Massage for Upper Extremity Lymphedema

Self Manual Lymph Drainage of the Leg

The same clearing techniques of the lymphatic and thoracic duct and the throat lymph nodes are used for facial or neck lymphoedema. YouTube videos for facial and neck lymphatic drainage do not necessary state that they are for lymphoedema but the same techniques are used.

Whatever method you use that works for you is the one to do. But, the following sequence should be followed:-


1 - Clear right lymphatic duct and left thoracic duct

2 - Clear lymph nodes under arms

3 - Deep Breathe

4 - Clear abdominal area

Lower Body

1 - Clear abdominal area

2 - Clear Groin

3 - Clear Upper leg working your way down to your knee

4 - Clear lower leg working your way down to your feet

5 - Clear feet

Upper Body

1 - Clear neck

2 - Clear shoulders & upper arm down to elbow

3 - Clear lower arm down to hands

4 - Clear hand


\Remember gravity helps drainage so it is best to have the affected limb raised in a position where gravity can help. For upper body this means raising your arm or at least resting it on a pillow that elevates it above your shoulder. For lower limbs this means elevating your legs. I know that most instructions just say to put pillows or specially designed foam shapes under your legs but personally I prefer to raise my bottom as well. Reason being, if your blockage is in your groin area then all the fluid is being directed to that area. Whereas, if your bottom is also elevated the fluid can continue along its path to the abdominal area.

Hope you get the picture - Whether you do self-massage, or someone does it for you, use a pump or just elevate your legs try to get your bottom up so gravity becomes your friend and Fluid doesn’t pool in your groin area.

I also sleep with the bottom of my bed elevated. It does not have to be a lot; I use a brick at each bottom corner which just gives a slight angle that I barely notice & no one else knows.

When I elevate like this and do my self-drainage massage (dry brushing), I hear the sweetest sound. It’s like gurgling in my tummy which I have learnt is the sound of fluid being sucked up past my diaphragm. Kind of sounds like, you are hungry, but you’re not.

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