The Lymph System: Our Body’s Bathroom, Toilet and Shower.
Lymphedema or lymphatic obstruction is a type of swelling that occurs when lymph builds up in the soft tissues of the body. Lymph is a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. It usually occurs in the arms or legs, but it may also occur in other areas such as the breast, chest, head and neck, and genitals.
The lymph or lymphatic system is a vitally important network of vessels that protect us from infection. The lymph fluid travels throughout the body through this network of vessels similar to the way blood travels through the circulatory system. While blood carries nutrients and other substances into our tissues, the lymph vessels drain fluid from the tissues and transport the fluid to the lymph nodes, the small gland-like masses of tissue which filter out and destroy bacteria and other harmful substances.
I remember being in Japan and seeing their intricate toilets. There were buttons that did all kinds of things like play music, heat water to wash your bottom, freshen the air and so many more! Our body’s lymphatic system is even more intricate than a Japanese toilet. It is a powerful system that flushes toxins and cleanses our body.
Here are some reasons our body isn’t flushing toxins and pathogens.
Lymphedema has many possible causes:
- Infection can cause inflammation or damage to the lymph nodes, restricting the proper drainage of the lymph fluid.
- Cancer cells themselves can block lymphatic vessels resulting in lymphedema.
- Radiation therapy can sometimes damage nearby healthy tissue of the lymphatic system.
- Lymph nodes may be injured in surgery involving blood vessels in the limbs or lymph nodes may be removed altogether in some cases of breast cancer surgery.
Symptoms of lymphedema:
- Swelling in arms or legs either in part or in the entire leg or arm, including the fingers or toes
- Mild lymphedema is first characterized as a feeling of heaviness, tingling, tightness, warmth, or shooting pains in the affected extremity.
- A more difficult time fitting into clothes or shoes may indicate lymphedema
- Restricted range of motion with tightness in the joints and reduced flexibility is a possible sign of lymphedema.
- A proneness to infection particularly in the skin
- Thickening and hardening of the skin in the swollen area, termed fibrosis, may be an indicator of lymphedema.
While lymphedema cannot be cured there are non-invasive measures that can be taken to alleviate the swelling and bring increased ease and comfort to the body. Treatment can help control and contain these problems that come with lymphedema.
Home treatment may include exercise on a stationary bike, compression socks, rebounders (affordable mini trampolines) and lymphatic massage chairs.
At Wagner Chiropractic in Eustis we use low level laser therapy(1), also called cold laser, to help decrease lymphedema swelling and skin hardness after a mastectomy. We use this device at Wagner Chiropractic to treat areas affected by lymphedema.
We may also combine use of our whole body vibration called “The Vibe” with low level laser therapy, physical therapy, lymphatic drainage massage therapy, and home exercises(2)—all performed and advised by our trained therapists. We counsel our patients on how to continue the program at home with the goal of keeping the swelling down.
Lymphatic drainage also assists with a wide range of other conditions such as:
- allergies and sinus congestion
- post-operative recovery (particularly cosmetic surgery) and reduction of scarring after surgery
- migraine headaches
- nerve pain and injury
- back, neck and muscle pain
- digestive issues
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- breast and menstrual pain
If you notice swelling in the limbs or already suffer from the pain and discomfort of lymphedema, please contact Wagner Chiropractic for a free consultation. We can show you some of the technologies and ideas we use to flush toxins and get your body’s bathroom cleansed and working for you.
- sometimes also referred to as low level light therapy or photobiomodulation (PBM)–a low intensity light therapy
- It is important to remember that physical activity causes the heart and lungs to work harder assisting the lymph vessels to move lymph out of the swollen limbs.
Torgan, Carol. “Lymphatic Vessels Discovered in Central Nervous System.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 9 Aug. 2018, www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/lymphatic-vessels-discovered-central-nervous-system.
Cardinale, M. et al. “Whole body vibration exercise: are vibrations good for you?” British Journal of Sports Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Sept. 2005, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1725325
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