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Ashiatsu or “finger pressure” massage, sometimes called Zen shiatsu, is a Japanese form of physiotherapy. .
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What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which is intended to encourage the natural drainage of the lymph, which carries waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart. Manual lymph drainage uses a specific amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate lymph flow.
MLD is now recognized as a primary tool in lymphedema management.
What conditions is lymphatic massage used for?
Up to 25 percent of breast cancer patients whose surgery includes removal of lymph nodes in the area of the armpit eventually develop lymphedema. The condition can also occur in the legs or other parts of the body if lymph nodes are removed in the course of other types of surgery - for melanoma, colon, prostate or bladder cancer, for example - or are damaged by radiation treatment, infection or trauma. Symptoms include swelling and pain near the site of the removed or damaged lymph nodes. Lymphedema can occur immediately after radiation therapy or surgery, or weeks, months, and even years later.
What should one expect on a visit to a practitioner of lymphatic massage?
A lymphatic massage session for women who develop lymphedema after surgery for breast cancer starts with light massage on the surface of the skin of the neck. The therapist gently rubs, strokes, taps or pushes the skin in directions that follow the structure of the lymphatic system so that accumulated lymph fluid can drain through proper channels. Lymphatic drainage is very gentle, is not painful and doesn’t have a stimulating effect. Each session lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, and therapy usually is performed once a day four or five times a week for two to four weeks. One study showed that the greatest reduction in swelling from lymphedema occurs in the first week of treatment and stabilizes during the second week
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