Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle massage technique used to maintain and restore body fluid balance and improve the functioning of the lymphatic system. This technique is used to treat cases of lymphatic obstruction (blockage) caused by different factors (physical, hereditary or acquired). Lymphatic obstruction typically occurs as a result of surgical excision of lymph nodes performed as part of the treatment of malignant diseases, or physical damage to lymph passages in the area affected by surgery, chronic rheumatism, hematoma, sport injuries, and similar. Tissue edema may also result from increased capillary hydrostatic pressure, hypoproteinemia and increased capillary permeability. If left untreated, this condition may cause a chronic inflammation and fibrosis of the affected tissue. Manual lymphatic drainage is used to remove the excess water and proteins, together with metabolic waste and toxins, from the body, which results in increased production of lymphocytes and higher infection defense levels. Once the lymphedema is removed, the pain and the pressure on the affected area begin to subside.
Manual lymphatic drainage has a beneficial effect on the lymphatic system, the autoimmune nervous system, the sensory passages of the pain reflex, and the immune system. The massage movements are applied in a specific direction, following a particular sequence, slowly, using mild pressure.