Edema
and how Massage Therapy may help!

Edema is abnormal fluid accumulation in the spaces between the cells of body tissues, causing swelling and pain. Mostly found in the legs and feet, where it is called peripheral, fluid retention can also accumulate in other areas of the body.

Water retention in legs occurs when the veins in the lower extremities fail to keep pace with the arteries, the outward flow of blood behind the inward flow. 

Swollen feet and ankles are common in people who are on their feet a lot, such as hair stylists or cashiers.

The swelling issues usually disappear with the elevation of legs and rest.

Weak leg muscles also cause water retention. Older women are highly susceptible to this condition because the muscles tend to deteriorate with aging.

Varicose veins in the legs, another frequent complaint of older people, contribute to swelling as well.

Most women experience swelling just before their menstrual periods and it is usually felt in the legs and abdominal areas. It often disappears with the start of menstruation.

Swelling can also be a sign of kidney, liver or heart disease. Repeated issues with leg or ankle swelling should be reported to a physician.

Congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart fails to pump as well as it should, is often one of the more serious problems with swelling. When there is not enough blood circulating, salt and water are retained by the body in the legs and abdomen. Weight gain of 15 to 20 pounds is not unusual.

Kidney and liver disorders are other common causes of water retention. If the kidneys are unable to excrete the excess salt from the body, a buildup of body fluid may result.

Liver diseases, like cirrhosis of the liver, may also lead to excess body fluid buildup.

Manual Lymph Drainage massage is often helpful in reducing edema because it stimulates blood flow, fluid movement and lymphatic system function (detoxing our bodies). Manual Lymph Drainage massage strokes are often made in upward motions toward the heart to encourage the lymph movement

Your legs will usually be elevated and the practitioner will use firm, steady pressure to massage from ankle to groin area in the leg and from wrist to armpit in the arm. Each leg/arm will be massaged about 10-15 minutes each.

Swelling of the legs or unusual weight gain should be addressed by a physician, as it could be a serious medical issue.

This Lymphatic Drainage Massage DVD teaches how to provide manual lymph drainage for people who suffer from lymphedema issues.

This is one of the best massage videos to  teach massage for fluid retention:

It teaches the anatomy of the lymph system, drainage flow patterns, as well as when you should and should not do lymph drainage massage.

With step by step movements, and over 60 techniques for the face and body, this highly rated DVD should be a must-have tool for any massage therapy profession.

If you are a licensed massage practitioner, or if you visit a massage therapist for lymphatic drainage for edema, make sure the training and  experience for this type of massage has occurred!

Go back to Massage Education Guide Homepage

Go back to Pain Syndromes from Edema

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