About the Lymphatic System
The Lymphatic system is a major body system and its healthy functioning is vital
to our health maintenance. Following is an overview of the anatomy and physiology of
the lymphatic system and the role of manual lymphatic drainage in soft tissue treatments.
The lymphatic system
The lymphatic system still remains a mystery to many people. It is part of the circulatory
apparatus of the body, structured much like the blood system and, in fact, is a larger system
than the blood system.
The lymphatic system forms a maze of watery vessels, or pathways, that flow throughout
the body. Its vessels travel alongside the blood vessels much of the time, and the two systems
have a close connection.
There are groups of tiny organs strung along the lymphatic vessels and around the body
organs, called lymph nodes.
In the case of the blood system its vessels travel in a loop, from the heart and back again,
while the lymphatic (lymph) vessels travel one way, from the tissues to the blood. The main
functionof the lymphatic system is to evacuate excess tissue fluid, a byproduct of blood
plasma, from the body’s tissues.
It has a role in immunity, via the action of its lymph nodes, and is responsible for cleansing the
tissues and balancing tissue fluid levels. This, essentially, maintains the integrity (or health) of
Tissue fluid is a byproduct of blood plasma which constantly escapes from the blood system into the tissues. The lymphatic system works as an overflow system, picking it up (at which point it becomes lymph fluid) and, eventually, returning it to the blood.
Lymph capillaries direct the fluid, and the discarded product it contains, into larger vessels
which then transport it to lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes are tiny, immune related, organs that store and develop good immune cells.
The lymph nodes receive the lymph fluid from the vessels. They then filter the product, extracting
hard waste and disabling any antigens. The hard waste is broken down and taken through the
alimentary process to exit the body, while the filtered fluid is returned to the blood.
The lymphatic system uses its maze of vessels and nodes to remove ever present excess fluid (escaped from the blood system) from the body tissues. Fluids are transported to the lymph nodes where they undergo a filtering process. Product contained in the fluid is separated and antigens disabled, before being removed from the body via the alimentary process.
The lymphatic system constantly evacuates excess fluids and waste products trapped around the tissue cells. The fluids are exchanged, renewed and replenished with nutrients to feed the tissue cells. This process ensures a continuous cleansing of the tissues and maintains soft tissue integrity.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy
The healthy functioning of the lymphatic system can be compromised due to factors such as stress, illness and soft tissue trauma. This can cause the lymphatic system to become overwhelmed and its functions to slow down.
Manual lymphatic drainage therapy uses non invasive and specific manual techniques, following the natural circulatory pathways of the lymphatic system, to stimulate and enhance its performance.
A modality with its foundations firmly based in medical science, manual lymphatic drainage therapy is a complete modality in its own right.
It resides under the umbrella of a branch of clinical medicine known as lymphology.
Ideally placed as a treatment for inflammatory and painful soft tissue conditions, its list of
applications is almost limitless.
These range from preventive care and beauty treatments, through to post surgical treatments
including post surgical lymphoedema (swelling) affecting the limbs.
For more information about the lymphatic system and lymphatic drainage see articles