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Lymphatic Drainage Massage: What It Is and How to Perform It

Lymphedema: The main health condition lymphatic drainage massage treats is lymphedema. Lymphedema is a severe and debilitating condition where excess protein-rich fluid accumulates in the space between cells within tissues.

Post-surgical swelling: Massage can help reduce swelling and promote healing after surgical procedures, says Sergio Alvarez, M.D., a plastic surgeon at Mia Aesthetics in Miami. A well-trained massage therapist should perform a lymphatic drainage massage effectively while avoiding disruptions to your surgical site and healing incision, he explains.

Edema: Edema is the accumulation of fluid in the body tissues. It can occur for a number of reasons including pregnancy, injury or certain medical conditions (such as heart failure or kidney disease), shares Melody Weber, a licensed massage therapist with LivingGood Whole Body Health in Naples, Florida.

Sinus congestion: Lymphatic drainage massage specifically applied to the sinuses can also help relieve congestion and promote drainage in the sinus passages, adds Weber.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes joint pain and swelling. Lymphatic drainage massage can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, according to Dr. Alvarez.

Lipedema: Lipedema is a chronic condition where fat and connective tissue accumulates in the legs, hips, buttocks and occasionally arms. It’s more common in women and can be painful. Standard of care for lipedema in the U.S. Includes lymphatic drainage massage, which helps stimulate lymphatic flow and reduces swelling.

Fibromyalgia: According to a 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis in Manual Therapy, lymphatic drainage massage was superior to connective tissue massage for managing stiffness, depression and quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.

Chronic venous insufficiency: Chronic venous insufficiency is a common condition that involves edema in the lower extremities, skin changes and discomfort. A small randomized controlled trial of 41 people with chronic venous insufficiency found that lymphatic drainage massage reduced symptom severity, edema and pain in people with chronic venous insufficiency.

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