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All about lymphatic drainage

Lymphatic drainage is a useful therapy if you’ve been affected by lymphedema (a condition causing fluid retention).

It’s safe and non-invasive and can be provided by your local manual osteopath.

Let’s find out all about lymphatic drainage in our latest article.

What is lymphatic drainage?

Lymphatic drainage, also known as lymphatic drainage massage and manual lymphatic drainage, is a treatment that uses massage to release swelling in your arms and legs gently.

This can occur as a result of lymphedema, which is when your tissues retain fluid that’s normally drained away by the body’s lymphatic system.

As well as swelling caused by fluid retention, other symptoms of lymphedema include:

  • Pain in the affected area.
  • Discoloured skin.
  • Heavy-feeling limbs.
  • Weakness.
  • Thickened or hardened skin.
  • Infections.

Lymphedema is common after breast cancer surgery and other types of surgery too.

Tell me more about the lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is a network of organs, vessels and tissues that aids the free flow of lymph (a clear fluid) around your body. The system’s components include lymph nodes, lymph vessels and your spleen.

The lymphatic system has lots of different functions, including:

  • Draining excess fluid from your tissues and cells and returning it to your bloodstream.
  • Absorbing fat from your digestive system.
  • Aiding your immune system by releasing special cells that destroy bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that may invade your body.
  • Removing abnormal cells and waste products from the lymph.

If there’s a blockage in your lymphatic system, for example, if you have had lymph nodes removed as part of cancer treatment, you may be vulnerable to the build-up of lymph in your limbs.

It’s important that this accumulation of fluid is relieved, as it can lead to skin infections.

What happens at a lymphatic drainage session?

When you go and see a manual osteopath for lymphatic drainage massage, they will start by asking you questions to understand your current issue and medical history.

Understand that your manual osteopath works with the lymphatic system as a whole. It’s also helpful to learn how to rebalance it to help restore your health and well-being.

During your session, your manual osteopath will massage your body with light movements to release trapped lymph fluid and encourage it to move freely through your lymph nodes and tissues again.

We know that lymphatic drainage is a safe and effective treatment. This study (1) analyzed trials of lymphatic drainage in women who had had breast cancer treatment and found that it was safe and could have added benefits compared to using compression bandages alone.

But it’s important to know that it’s not recommended for everyone, for instance, if you have a heart condition, kidney failure, an infection or blood clots.

So, it’s best to consult with your doctor before you undergo a lymphatic drainage massage.

Find lymphatic drainage therapy near you

It’s essential to have lymphedema treated to prevent it from worsening and causing serious infection.

So why not choose safe and effective lymphatic drainage therapy near you?

Call us at 403-814-0404 or book an appointment online at

Our experts provide a wide range of manual osteopathy services, including lymphatic drainage massage, craniosacral therapy, ultrasound therapy and more. Call us today to learn how we can help relieve the discomfort of lymphedema.

Approved by Indira Ravaeva. Manual Osteopath. Member of National Manual Osteopathic Society and Osteopathy Australia.


  • 1. Ezzo J, Manheimer E, McNeely M, Howell D, Weiss R, Johansson K, Bao T, Bily L, Tuppo C, Williams A, Karadiba D. ‘Manual lymphatic drainage for lymphedema following breast cancer treatment,’ The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, 2015 May 21;(5):CD003475. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003475.pub2.

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