Inflammation of the body’s tissue has been found to change the pH level in connective tissue from normal to acidic. This change causes an increase in the permeability of the blood capillaries due to an increase in the size of the vascular pores. The larger pores allow more protein to leave the blood and accumulate in the interstitial space. The increased protein levels cause a higher colloid osmotic pressure in the interstitial space, hence increased fluid filtration from the vascular system and therefore increased edema results.
In addition to its effect on the vascular system, inflammation causes lymph vessels to dilate (get bigger in diameter), limiting the ability of the lymphangion valves to close (as the edges of the valves no longer touch each other). Inflammation can also cause spastic contractions to occur proximal to (up from) the inflamed site. Both situations result in an inability to transport lymph fluid from the region. While this is useful in the case of a toxic, bacterial, or viral inflammation as it limits the spread of the antigen (which is the problem), it is not useful in the case of chronic inflammation.
In the case of chronic inflammation Manual Lymphatic Drainage can assist in reducing the inflammatory agents, thereby decreasing spastic contractions and vascular permeability. This subsequently decreases the protein load in the interstitial space and re-establishes homeostasis (balance) in the region.
With a reduction of edema in the area, healing can accelerate as the time required to move nutrients and wastes to and from the live cells is decreased. This effect is due to the fact that in order for waste or nutrients to cross an interstitial area time equals distance squared (T=d2). For illustrative purposes this means that if it normally takes 4 seconds for a nutrient to cross a 2 cm distance it will take 9 seconds to cross a 3 cm distance. It stands to reason that the less the edema, the less the distance resulting in a significant reduction in time to provide nutrients and remove waste from cells. Obviously, increased waste and less nutrients will create an unhealthy environment and lend itself to increased potential infections and cellular damage.
Absolute & Relative Contra-Indications
Contra-indications are conditions or factors that serve as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment. Due to the effectiveness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) in accelerating lymph flow there are a number of health concerns that do not allow individuals to receive MLD. If you are experiencing any of the following situations please discuss these with a therapist prior to receiving any treatment: