resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
June, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 06
Traditional Massage Therapy in the Treatment and Management of Lymphedema
By Joachim Zuther, MT, PT
Editor's note: Joachim Zuther is the founder and director of the Academy of Lymphatic Studies in Sebastian, Florida. Mr. Zuther received his massage therapy degree in 1982 and his physical therapist degree in 1984, both from the School for Physical Therapy and Massage in Ulm, Germany.He is also certified in manual lymph drainage and is the director of the Lymphedema Association of North America (LANA).
Lymphedema is a common condition caused by a reduction in the transport capacity of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system in the affected area is unable to respond to an increase in lymphatic loads. Massage therapy increases the amount of lymphatic load and can have negative effects on lymphedema if applied incorrectly.
This article discusses the differences between massage therapy and the techniques known as manual lymph drainage (Vodder Technique) and the proper application of massage therapy when lymphedema is present.
Lymphedema is defined as high-protein edema - an accumulation of water and protein in the tissues, caused by a decrease in the transport capacity of the lymphatic system. Lymphedema may be mild, moderate or severe; most often, it affects the extremities, but can also be present in other parts of the body.
Lymphedema can be classified as primary or secondary. In primary lymphedema, transport capacity is reduced as the result of a congenital malformation in the lymphatic system.6 Primary lymphedema may be present at birth, but more often develops later in life, with or without obvious cause. Secondary lymphedema is more common, and is caused by surgical interventions involving the lymphatic system. Lymph node dissections, radiation therapy, or incisions that disrupt the natural pathways of the lymphatic system affect the ability of the lymphatics to drain lymphatic loads out of the affected extremity. Secondary lymphedema may arise immediately after surgery or years later.
What Are Lymphatic Loads?
The lymphatic system is not a closed circulatory system; it works according to the one-way principle. Its main purpose is to drain from the interstitium substances that cannot be absorbed by the venous end of the blood capillaries. These substances, called lymphatic loads, consist of water, protein, cells and fat.5
What Is the Transport Capacity of the Lymphatic System?
Transport capacity is the highest possible lymph flow per unit of time.4 The relation of the physiological resting lymph flow to the transport capacity of a healthy lymphatic system is approximately 1:10.7 This means that the lymphatic system is able to transport 10 times the volume of the normal amount of lymphatic loads. When primary or secondary lymphedema is present, the transport capacity of the lymphatic system falls below the physiological level of water and protein load (mechanical insufficiency).
Massage Therapy vs. Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)
The term massage means "to knead" (Gr: massain) and is used to describe forms of "classical" or "Swedish" massage.10 The word is often misused to describe the techniques of manual lymph drainage, which is a gentle, manual treatment technique used in combination with compression therapy, skin care and decongestive exercises. The techniques of MLD are used to effectively treat primary and secondary lymphedema1 and postsurgical and posttraumatic swelling. Migraine headache, chronic venous insufficiencies and edema of other genesis present additional indications. MLD also has a detoxifying effect.
If applied correctly, MLD increases the activity of lymph vessels and moves interstitial fluid; it exerts little pressure on the skin3 and does not cause any increase in local arterial blood flow.
Effects of Massage Therapy on the Skin
The basic strokes used in massage (e.g., petrissage, effleurage, tapotement, vibration and friction) are generally applied with more pressure than manual lymph drainage techniques. The effects of massage strokes are not limited to suprafascial tissues (e.g., the skin), but also cause reactions in subfascial areas such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage strokes can increase local arterial blood flow and venous and lymphatic return, and can also loosen subcutaneous adhesions.
Many massage therapy publications list edema as one of the indications for these techniques.8 This statement, while correct, is often misleading if the distinction between edema and lymphedema is not established. Edema is suprafascial tissues can be caused by various problems, including inflammation or impaired venous return (valvular insufficiency, pregnancy, or prolonged sitting and/or standing). With edema, the lymphatic system remains intact but is overloaded. This condition, called dynamic insufficiency, results in the accumulation of water in the tissues. Massage therapy may be beneficial for some forms of edema, but is contraindicated for others. It should not be applied without prior consultation with a physician.
On the other hand, lymphedema is always caused by mechanical insufficiency of the lymphatic system; water and protein accumulates in the tissues. As discussed earlier, in the case of mechanical insufficiency, the transport capacity of the lymphatic system falls below the physiological level of water and protein load and is not able to appropriately respond to an increase in lymphatic loads.
Negative Effects of Massage Therapy on Lymphedema
Most massage strokes cause an increase in arterial blood flow (active hyperemia) in skin areas where such techniques are applied. Active hyperemia is accompanied by an increase in blood capillary pressure and subsequent increase in ultrafiltration of water in the area of the blood capillaries. This process results in more water accumulating in the interstitial spaces. Water represents a lymphatic load. Due to mechanical insufficiency, the lymphatic system will not be able to manage this additional water load. If massage therapy to lymphedemateous tissues, an increase in swelling may result.
Additionally, superficial lymphatics are extremely vulnerable to external pressure. Traditional massage techniques can cause focal damage to anchoring filaments and the endothelial lining of lymph vessels.2 This possible damage to lymphatics, and the potential increase in arterial blood flow, must be avoided.
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