Reflexology Lymph Drainage
Lymphoedema is defined as tissue swelling due to the failure of lymph drainage. After breast cancer a person may experience psychological or emotional difficulties due to altered body image, and a swollen limb can exacerbate this. Research suggests that survivors with lymphoedema are more likely to suffer psychological and emotional difficulties, be more disabled, and experience a poorer quality of life than survivors without the condition.
Improved breast cancer survival rates suggest that approximately 2 out of 3 women survive the disease beyond 20 years. This means that more people are living longer with this debilitating side effect for which there is currently no cure.
Reflexology Lymph Drainage was developed by Sally Kay in conjunction with the Cardiff Metropolitan University. This problem-specific reflexology technique targets the lymphatic system to stimulate drainage and encourage the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system. Read more about the development of the RLD protocol here.
The original study from Cardiff Metropolitan University is here.
Listen to Sally talk about RLD and hear a patient talk about the results here.
What happens during an RLD session? We will start each session by measuring the volume of your affected limb (Limb Volume Circumference Measurement or LVCM). We will work three feet, starting with the foot on the unaffected side, moving over to the foot on the affected side, and then back to the unaffected side. Once we have worked three feet, we take the LVCM again. The whole session will take about an hour.
How many sessions do I need to see results? Everyone is different, but the protocol suggests 4-6 sessions to see meaningful results.
Are there any side effects? No. Reflexology is non-invasive. This is a real comfort following mastectomy, when you're getting to grips with the changes to your body following surgery, and you might not feel comfortable having traditional lymphatic massage near the surgical site. RLD produces a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing. Patients have reported improved sleep and an overall feeling of wellness.
Should I have RLD instead of Manual Lymph Drainage? RLD is a great complementary therapy to MLD.