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MacLymph News

Can I Have A Traditional Massage If I Have Lymphoedema?

A really interesting article in Massage Today by the Lymphedema Guru (Joachim Zuther, MT, PT) on Traditional Massage and the effect on Lymphoedema – click here

Note that the conclusion is missing, so I have extracted it here for you
If lymphedema is present, the application of massage therapy is contraindicated in the affected extremity as well as in the trunkal area bordering this extremity (ipsilateral trunkal quadrant).

The same areas represent a contraindication for massage therapy in patients who underwent surgery involving the lymphatic system but lymphedema is not yet present (latency stage of lymphedema). This is often the case in post mastectomy/lumpectomy patients who also underwent removal or radiation of the axillary lymph nodes. The absence of visible lymphedema in these patients indicates that, even though reduced by the surgical procedure, the transport capacity of the lymphatic system is still sufficient enough to remove water and protein from the tissues. The balance between the reduced transport capacity of the lymphatic system and the lymphatic loads may be very fragile. Any additional disturbance may trigger the onset of lymphedema.

As previously discussed, Massage therapy increases the lymphatic load of water (and often cells) and may further decrease the transport capacity of the lymphatic system by causing additional damage to those lymphatics being still intact following surgical procedures.

In patients with primary lymphedema affecting one leg, massage therapy should not be applied in the contralateral extremity since malformation of the lymphatic system may be also present in this leg. (5)

The application of massage (that also includes other massage techniques, which cause an increase in arterial blood flow) in lymphedemateous limbs and the bordering trunkal quadrants may trigger the onset of lymphedema or worsen lymphedema already present.

Massage therapy in the case of upper extremity lymphedema may be applied safely in the lumbar/gluteal area and on the lower extremities. Negative effects on lymphedema may be possible if massage strokes are applied on the neck/upper trapezius area.

Neck, thorax and upper extremities may be treated with massage therapy if lower extremity lymphedema is present. The lumbar and gluteal areas on the opposite side as well as the unaffected lower extremity present an area “at risk” and should be treated with caution.

*Courtesy of Massage Today by the Lymphedema Guru (Joachim Zuther, MT, PT)

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