If you have swelling in an arm or leg due to lymph congestion, lymph drainage therapy might help. This is a type of massage therapy that stimulates the movement and removal of lymph accumulation. The therapy might be used to treat arm swelling after breast cancer treatment or leg swelling due to obesity that causes fat to block fluid drainage. 

This therapy is done for several conditions and is usually done with the approval of your doctor. You'll need a massage therapist trained in lymph drainage therapy since this is much different from traditional massage. Here's an overview of how it works.

The Therapy Drains Fluid Manually

A traditional massage works on muscles and deep tissues. Lymph drainage therapy works on the skin. The touch has to be light so it affects lymph movement. The pressure isn't hard enough to reach the muscles. First, the therapist massages the unaffected areas to clear them of lymph. Then they work on the swollen area to manually drain fluid toward the lymph nodes and heart.

Different Movements Are Used

The therapist might make circular movements on your arm skin, use the side of their hand to make sweeping movements, or make pumping and scooping motions on your skin to get lymph fluid moving. The goal is to move the lymph away from the swollen area toward your heart where it can be sent back into the circulatory system.

Lymph Drainage Therapy Is Gentle

You should have no difficulty tolerating this therapy since light pressure is used. Lymph vessels aren't too far under the skin, so you get the effects of the therapy with a light touch. A treatment session may also involve breathing techniques that can help you relax. You may be stretched out on a treatment table for the therapy, but you might be seated. The exact way you're treated depends on the area of your body where you have swelling.

Several Treatments May Be Needed

Results of lymph drainage therapy may be noted after one session, but you'll probably need multiple sessions, especially if you have a chronic condition or need palliative care. Your doctor should agree this therapy is right for your condition since there are a few medical problems that may not be a good match for manual lymphatic drainage.

Your therapist is also careful about your medical condition, and a lymphatic drainage therapist is trained well in what to do and what to avoid so you can feel safe about having this therapy and benefiting from it.

Reach out to a local service provider like Lymph Drainage Princeton to learn more.