Alternative medicine is a relatively broad term that encompasses a number of different approaches that are intended to supplement conventional medical treatment in less invasive ways than surgery or prolonged use of prescription medications.
Therapeutic massage can offer relaxation, as well as provide a restorative sense of balance and general wellbeing. There are a number of different types of therapeutic massage, each intended to address certain medical conditions as well as common complaints, and while therapeutic massage is generally recognized to be an integral part of any health and wellness routine, there are also therapeutic massage modalities which are designed to address particular medical issues. Lymphatic drainage massage represents one such modality, or type, of massage.
Understanding the lymphatic system
To understand the purpose and goal of lymphatic drainage massage, it is important to understand the basic structure and function of the lymphatic system. Lymph is a clear, watery substance that resembles plasma and travels through the body in much the same way as blood flows. The body contains specific areas called lymph nodes, which act like filters for the lymph traveling through the body. The purpose of the lymphatic system, in general, is to return plasma proteins to the bloodstream, to help maintain fluid balance in the body, to drain fluid from body tissues, to provide defense against disease-producing substances, and to contribute to the absorption of fats from the digestive system. The purpose and goal of lymphatic drainage massage, then, is to promote the successful and continued circulation of lymph.
What the lymphatic system can affect
The five most common types of medical conditions associated with the lymphatic system include allergy, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV infection, and lymphedema. Some of the most prevalent types of allergy include food, skin, drug, and environmental. Autoimmune disease is any disease in which the body attacks its own tissue. Some examples of autoimmune disease include lupus, Sjogren syndrome, Hashimoto thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes (type 1), polymiositis, scleroderma, Addison disease, vitiligo, and pulmonary fibrosis. Chronic fatigue syndrom is a medical condition of unknown cause that is characterized by fever, aching, and prolonged tiredness with symptoms of depression that can typically occur in the aftermath of a viral infection. HIV infection is a virus that specifically targets the body's immune system. Lymphedema is a medical condition that is most commonly caused by damage to, or removal of, lymph nodes, and is usually associated with cancer treatment.
Lymphatic drainage massage
While not intended to replace conventional medical treatment, therapeutic massage, in general, and lymphatic drainage massage, in particular, can help alleviate some of the common complaints and physical ailments that are most often associated with conditions that directly effect the lymphatic system. Supplementing this type of massage with conventional care can aid in improving overall quality of life. For anyone who is seeking alternative medical care through therapeutic massage for conditions involving the lymphatic system, the lymphatic drainage massage modality provides a logical supplementary option.