When you hear the words “manual lymphatic drainage” do you think of massage? Probably not. But manual lymphatic drainage is actually a type of massage that offers many health benefits. The licensed massage therapists at Inova Medical Spa are specially trained to perform this technique for cancer patients and others.

The lymphatic system helps eliminate waste from the body. If lymph nodes become blocked, fluid is unable to drain and builds up – a condition called lymphedema. Symptoms include swelling in the arms or legs, pain, heaviness, tightness and infection. Cancer, cancer surgery, radiation treatment and other medical conditions can trigger lymphedema. For many oncology patients, the condition may not occur until months or even years after treatment ends. 

Lymphedema is not curable, but there are ways to reduce the pain and swelling. A licensed massage therapist who specializes in lymphatic treatment can perform manual lymphatic drainage. The technique typically involves slow and rhythmic movements with gentle pressure to the affected area (although each therapist’s technique may vary slightly). The goal is to redirect the fluid from swollen and congested lymph nodes to functioning lymphatic regions, easing symptoms and reducing the likelihood of fibrosis, debilitating pain and cellulitis.

Manual lymphatic drainage is not for everyone. People with congestive heart failure, blood clots, or kidney or circulation problems should not have this type of massage. Inova Medical Spa therapists carefully review each person’s health history and symptoms to determine the best course of action.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at 703.554.1130 (Ashburn) or 571.472.0750 (Inova Schar Cancer Institute).

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