Contraindications to Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Lymphatic drainage massage can be greatly beneficial for those who suffer from an imbalance in their body’s physiological processes. There are a variety of benefits that are associated with mobilizing the infection-fighting lymphocytes in the fluids and ‘activating’ the nodes and vessels throughout the body, but there are some situations in which patients and providers will want to avoid using this gentle massage technique.
As with all therapies, lymphatic drainage massage is not for everyone. It should not be used as singular therapy for illnesses or it’s other benefits. It’s much more effective when combined with a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The NLN (National Lymphedema Network) gives us several situations in which lymphatic drainage massage should not be used:
1. After surgery, it is common for patients to develop lymphedema, or swelling of the lymph nodes and vessels. They will experience sudden, significant increase in swelling of the surgical site and surrounding areas. If and when this happens, patients and massage therapists should stop the lymphatic massage and talk to their primary doctor or surgeon for further evaluation, as there could be an underlying serious complication from surgery.
2. Lymphangitis is an infection in the lymph vessels. It’s common in bacterial infections. Patients who have lymphangitis should not use or continue with lymphatic massage until the infection is completely cleared because it could be transporting the infection throughout the rest of the body.
3. In patients who are at high risk for blood clots, it is advisable that they be tested for deep-venous thrombosis (DVT) before being treated with lymphatic drainage massage. These patients should be followed very closely during treatment, and testing for thrombosis or clots should be done regularly throughout the therapy. This is because every system in the body is connected. Mobilizing the lymphatic fluid could mobilize a clot which could lead to heart attack, stroke, and various other complications.
4. Patients who suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF) need to be closely monitored in order to avoid mobilizing too much lymph fluid too quickly because it could strain the heart function and muscles.
5. If the patient is experiencing increased pain, especially during the massage, it is advisable to discontinue treatment until the cause of the pain is found and the pain is resolved.
If you are considering lymphatic drainage massage either as an addition to a healthier lifestyle or as specific treatment, talk to your physicians or a holistic practitioner beforehand to make sure you are not at risk.