resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
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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