As we’re seeing more patients come into clinic for Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) sessions, Sam, whose part of our Client Care team, thought she’d share her experience of living with lymphoedema and having some MLD treatment at Katie Bell Physiotherapy and Wellness.
I was diagnosed with primary lymphoedema in my left leg when I was 11 years old. Sure, it’s been tricky and hasn’t been helped along the way by horse riding accidents, running a half marathon, broken ankles, pregnancy and generally living life, but my legs coping (at the moment) and I’ve learnt a few things along the way.
To give a quick recap: there are two types of lymphoedema – primary and secondary, which have different causes. Primary lymphoedema is caused by mutations in genes responsible for the development of the lymphatic system. Secondary lymphoedema develops in people who once had a normal lymphatic system that then becomes damaged, most commonly through treatment for illnesses, such as surgery or radiotherapy for cancer.
I had my first MLD session in about eight years this week and can honestly say that I felt the benefits straight away. I haven’t had MLD since breaking the ankle of my affected leg and having surgery. My ankle is usually very tight (a combination of the pins in there and lymphoedema) but immediately felt looser, lighter and the swelling reduced. As well as being deeply relaxing (so worth it for that alone) the session with Jackie (our MLD specialist) is definitely something I’ll be repeating – she’s recommended a course of treatment that will work for me and balancing it with life.
Making time to exercise can be tricky but with exercise I find the swelling in my effected leg is much easier to manage. Little is still known about lymphoedema and managing it is certainly personal, there’s no one size fits all approach, but I find a combination of exercise including Pilates (my leg is easier to manage when my core is strong), wearing pressure bandages and MLD works for me.
My advice, try MLD! Contact Jackie our MLD specialist or a member of the Katie Bell Physiotherapy & Wellness team for more information.