Lymph nodes are located all over the body. Specialized cells are located in these nodes to act as a filter collecting and destroying bacteria and viruses. When your body is fighting an infection, these cells increase in number to help clear the infection, this results in the characteristic swelling.
The lymphatic system also helps bring lymph (a part of blood plasma) from more distant locations to larger vessels to be filtered as needed. This is happening frequently and not only when you are sick. When this function is altered, the lymph may not be able to return to those larger vessels for filtration, resulting in notable swelling in the extremities. This is often uncomfortable and can be treated!
Conditions that may need this type of massage:
- swelling due to trauma
- older age
When pregnant, there are many factors that decrease the lymph flow towards the larger vessels to be filtered. This is why many pregnant women often have swollen lower legs.
When there is trauma and swelling to an area, all functions become affected. This results in less lymph flowing past the injury causing swelling and added lymph collection in the farther areas from the heart.
A mastectomy may often be accompanied with removing some lymph nodes which would cause decreased efficiency in lymph filtration.
As you age, the body becomes less efficient at many things, lymph drainage being one of them. This is why swelling frequently occurs in the lower legs of the elderly. Muscle contraction helps bring the lymph up to larger vessels for filtration. As a person ages, movement may decrease, muscle mass decreases, so the filtration is not as efficient.
What to expect:
Lymphatic massage is very different from a typical massage. This will consist of light and methodical pressure to help guide the lymph accordingly. It is a slow technique that will help the lymph move towards the heart to facilitate proper filtration.