Manual lymphatic drainage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of massage based on the hypothesis that it will encourage the natural drainage of the lymph, which carries waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart. The lymph system depends on intrinsic contractions of the smooth muscle cells in the walls of lymph vessels (peristalsis) and the movement of skeletal muscles to propel lymph through the vessels to lymph nodes and then to the lymph ducts which return lymph to the cardiovascular system. Manual lymph drainage uses a specific amount of pressure (less than 9 ounces per square inch or about 4 kPa) and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate lymph flow.[1][2][3]

Medical use[edit]

Studies show mixed results regarding the efficacy of the method in treating lymphedema and further studies are needed.[4] A 2013 systematic review of manual lymphatic drainage with regard to breast cancer related lymphedema found no clear support for the effectiveness of the intervention in either preventing limb edema in at-risk women or treating women for the condition.[5]


Manual lymphatic drainage was pioneered by Danish Drs. Emil Vodder and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s[3] for the treatment of chronic sinusitis and other immune disorders. While working on the French Riviera treating patients with chronic colds, the Vodders noticed these patients had swollen lymph nodes. In 1932, at a time when the lymphatic system was poorly understood, they began to develop light, rhythmic hand movements hoping to promote lymph movement. In 1936, they introduced this technique in Paris, France, and after World War II, they returned to Copenhagen to teach other practitioners to use this therapy.[6]


  1. ^ Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage; Ramona Moody French; Delmar/Cengage; 2004
  2. ^ "Lymphatic Drainage Face Massage". February 8, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Stillerman, Elaine (2009). Modalities for Massage and Bodywork. Mosby. pp. 129–143. ISBN 032305255X.
  4. ^ "Manual Lymph Drainage Combined With Compression Therapy for Arm Lymph- edema Following Breast Cancer Treatment" (PDF). Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  5. ^ Huang TW, Tseng SH, Lin CC, Bai CH, Chen CS, Hung CS, Wu CH, Tam KW (2013). "Effects of manual lymphatic drainage on breast cancer-related lymphedema: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". World J Surg Oncol. 11 (15). doi:10.1186/1477-7819-11-15. PMC 3562193. PMID 23347817.
  6. ^ Levine, Andrew (1998). The Bodywork and Massage Sourcebook. Lowell House. pp. 173–84. ISBN 9780737300987.

External links[edit]