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Massage therapy can help to decrease pain and muscle aches, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote overall wellness and relaxation.

Are deep massages good for arm lymphedema?

Jennifer Forte (Ithaca, NY) on Oct 10, 2014
2 users found this answer helpful
No. Lymphatic drainage massage is very light, and your therapist should have an extra certification in lymphatic drainage to do this work. The lymphatic vessels are very fine and delicate, so lighter pressure moves fluid through them most efficiently. Your therapist also needs to be educated about the direction of the lymphatic flow in different areas of the body as to not cause unnecessary edema.
Geraldine Macinski (Sandy Hook, CT) on Oct 10, 2014
1 user found this answer helpful
Lymph system issues are best addressed by a certified lymph drainage therapist. Lymphedema is a contraindication for deep tissue massage.
Geraldine Macinski (Sandy Hook, CT) on Oct 10, 2014
1 user found this answer helpful
Lymph system issues are best addressed by a certified lymph drainage therapist. Lymphedema is a contraindication for deep tissue massage.
Minki Kim (Astoria, NY) on Oct 10, 2014
1 user found this answer helpful
Hi, To answer your question as a Strucutral Integrator/Rolfer, which is a type of manual therapy that can be deep, most edema cases are contradindicated or advised against, particular pitting edemas. Pitting edemas is when the tissue does not spring back immediately to the touch. Now, if the edema is subacute, or not too severe, the bogginess can be alleviated. Structural Integration is very helpful in relieving temporary immobilization that is related to swelling or edema in the extremities (arms and legs). As a rule of thumb, if any symptom is severe or acute, go see your physician. Any type of manual therapy is great for subacute or less severe cases, especially Structural Integration/Rolfing because it delivers a longstanding solution to relieving and preventing further physical disorder and malaise. Hope this answers your question. Best, MKSI - Minki Kim Structural Integration More Info on Website:
Judie Yim (New York, NY) on Oct 10, 2014
There are degrees of edema which determine the proper massage protocol. Edema can be a general diagnosis of stasis of lymph within a segment of the body, mainly the peripheral extensions of legs and arms. A more serious condition is "pitting edema," pitting on the surface of the skin which remains depressed when medium pressure is applied. This indicates that the lymph is thick and viscous and that the nearby lymph nodes are inefficient. This condition is contraindicated for deep massage, as the thick lymph has nowhere to go. Lymphatic balancing and lymphatic drainage around the area of lymphedema would benefit to improve the flow of lymph, especially in regions further from the edema location. As self-care, daily light dry-brushing of the skin would be of benefit, as well as drinking plenty of water with fresh-squeezed lemon to purify the lymph and elevating the arms above your head.
Deborah Gilmore (Golden, CO) on Oct 10, 2014
Possibly, but deep work is contraindicated for edema at this point.
Julie LaFrano (Breckenridge, CO) on Oct 10, 2014
Lymph massage is superficial. A massage that is too deep will not allow the fluids to drain.
Carin Piacente (Putnam Valley, NY) on Oct 10, 2014
No, they are not. The lymphatic system sits at a superficial layer on the body. If you press too hard, you actually cut the system off. Think of a tourniquet. If you cut the circulation off, the area swells.
Paula Irwin (Del Mar, CA) on Oct 10, 2014
It's essential to be gentle with an area affected by lymphedema. Since the nodes and vessels are compromised with lymphedema, deep massage is counterindicated as it may cause increased swelling and further damage. Continued MLD treatments for long term health are best, along with proper home care. Use PH balanced lotions, such as Eucerin, to prevent ulcerations caused by excessive lymphedema. Remember to ware your compressive garments, as they keep the edema in check.
Jayma Temple (Worthington, OH) on Oct 10, 2014
Deep pressure in a massage will compact the vessels of the lymph system. This prevents the lymph from being able to flow. In order to move the lymph, a rhythmic, superficial pressure should be used. It is best to see a therapist who has studied techniques for lymphatic drainage to ensure the best results. Always be sure to share your medical history with your massage professional before you have any treatments.
Mark Carlson (Costa Mesa, CA) on Oct 10, 2014
No. Manual lymphatic drainage is what is recommended for arm lymphedema.
Samuel Michael (New York City, NY) on Oct 10, 2014
This is a tricky question to answer: Technically manual lymph drainage massage does not require especially deep strokes. Just as it only takes a very light stroke to stimulate the blood in the circulatory system, so too, as the lymph vessels are very superficial, it should logically not require deep pressure or a lot of digging around to access them. Now back to the original question: Are deep massages good for arm lymphedema? Depending on the severity of the edema, I would proceed with caution but not entirely contraindicate the use of "deep massage", so long as it is not exacerbating the condition. I would not use it as a primary treatment. Perhaps hot and cold baths, light exercise and stretching, along with some circulatory/lymphatic massage would be the best starting treatment for mild edema.