The Vodder Manual Lymph Drainage Technique
By Sandra Macdonald,
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Vodder Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) technique was pioneered by
Dr. Emil Vodder in the 1930s and is now practiced worldwide. Much
research has been done on the effectiveness of MLD especially
in Europe and more recently in Australia.
what is edema? Simply stated edema is swelling, caused by excess
fluid in the tissues. This can result from many things; inflammation
from injury like a sprained ankle; circulatory problems; heart
conditions; pregnancy; or lymphatic dysfunction. In the later
case, the resulting problem is called Lymphoedema.
can be either primary or secondary. Primary lymphoedemas are caused
by problems with the development of the lymphatic system - not
having enough vessels, nodes or just a poor system. Primary lymphoedemas
frequently involve the legs but can affect any area and may arise
at or soon after birth, in puberty, or later in life. Secondary
lymphoedemas result when something happens to the lymphatic system
which causes a malfunction (i.e., trauma, surgery, or subsequent
to other health problems such as circulatory conditions). Symptoms
can arise soon after the incident or years later.
understand why lymphoedema occurs, lets look at how fluid moves
in the body. Many people are aware that blood is composed of white
and red cells along with water, nutrients, proteins and other
components. In the small capillaries, some of these substances
filter out into the tissues to provide nutrients to the cells
in exchange for waste products, much of which then filters back
into the blood stream and is eliminated. However, some of the
waste products remain, usually larger molecules like proteins,
and water. This is what the lymph system is responsible for removing.
the case of lymphoedema the lymph system cannot process this excess
fluid and it gradually builds up. This leads to less filtration,
and as fluid exchange slows, less nutrients are available to the
cells, causing a decrease in the health of the tissues, and making
the skin susceptible to infections like cellulitis.
accepted treatment of lymphoedema is known as Complex Decongestive
Therapy. CDT consists of four components:
1) Manual Lymph Drainage - MLD stimulates the lymph vessels to
move the fluid away from the damaged areas and maximizes the function
of the remaining vessels. A certified therapist can provide this
and/or self-help techniques can be learned.
2) Compression - During treatment compression maintains the improvements
from day to day preventing the limb from refilling. Compression
garments can be ordered with varying strengths to suite the client's
particular needs for long-term maintenance.
3) Exercise is important in maintaining the mobility of the affected
limb. Slow, deliberate, broad muscle movements and deep breathing
can also help stimulate lymph flow.
4) Skin Care - Due to the potential for decreased skin health
it is important to keep the skin clean, use neutral pH lotions,
and avoid minor cuts or injury to the involved area.
is a chronic condition, and while it is not possible to repair,
it can be successfully managed. If you have had a surgery in which
nodes have been removed, then the lymph system is at risk. Not
everyone gets lymphoedema and it is not possible to determine
who will or will not develop it or when it might arise. It is
important to recognize that the earlier treatment is started,
the better the long-term results. The best advice is to be well
informed so that if symptoms arise you can take quick action to
deal with your concerns. There is a great deal of information
available on the internet; try www.lymphovenous-canada.org, www.lymphnet.org,
MacDonald is a Registered Massage Therapist (BC) for 14 years
and for the past 6 has been a Certified Vodder Manual Lymphatic
Drainage Therapist in Halifax.
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