Frightening Side Effects of Manual Lymphatic Therapy

4 Posts | Page(s): 1 

Frightening Side Effects of Manual Lymphatic Therapy

by Leslie912 on Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:00 AM

Quote | Reply

Any help with this is sincerely appreciated!  I'm scared about continuing with this treatment if I can't find a reasonable explanation.

I underwent a double-mastectomy 9 months ago for cancer in both breasts. Within the past three weeks, I started having truncal lymphedema--first on the right side of my chest and under my right arm and back, then in my left upper chest area. My oncologist diagnosed lymphedema and referred me to an Occupational Therapist for Lymphatic Drainage Massage/Manual Lymphatic Treatment (MLT) and massage on my scars to loosen the tissue.

After my first treatment (which wasn't painful and actually felt good), I completely BLACKED OUT!  I'm told I went shopping, took the kids to eat Chinese food and a bunch of other stuff that I simply don't remember.  (I didn't have any alcohol or non-prescribed medication.) Everyone who interacted with me during the 24-hour time period that I do not remember says I seemed fine.

I have continued with the therapy (I told the therapist what happened), and she is using even lighter touch with fewer reps. We also take breaks for me to drink water when I start to get dizzy. No one seems to know exactly what happened/is happening. I'm small in frame/weight (5'6", 105"). One theory is toxins being released into my bloodstream from the inflamed  tissues. I try to drink alot of water to help dilute whatever is in my blood or lymphatic fluid. If I don't, I also get nauseus and throw up after each treatment.

Has anyone ever heard of this or experienced this? It's scary but I need treatment for the lymphedema! Help!

Thank You and God Bless...~Leslie

RE: Frightening Side Effects of Manual Lymphatic Therapy

by jst4games123 on Wed Jan 02, 2008 12:00 AM

Quote | Reply

Did you ever get any answers to your questions?  I am asking because I wanted to get all info possible before letting Jim go for a massage.  He has 3B lung cancer and its in his lymph nodes and I wondered if a massage would actually cause the cancer to spread more quiicky.

 I hope you are doing well!

Esther

RE: Frightening Side Effects of Manual Lymphatic Therapy

by MLD_Specialist on Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:00 AM

Quote | Reply

On 9/22/2007 Leslie912 wrote:

Any help with this is sincerely appreciated!  I'm scared about continuing with this treatment if I can't find a reasonable explanation.

I underwent a double-mastectomy 9 months ago for cancer in both breasts. Within the past three weeks, I started having truncal lymphedema--first on the right side of my chest and under my right arm and back, then in my left upper chest area. My oncologist diagnosed lymphedema and referred me to an Occupational Therapist for Lymphatic Drainage Massage/Manual Lymphatic Treatment (MLT) and massage on my scars to loosen the tissue.

After my first treatment (which wasn't painful and actually felt good), I completely BLACKED OUT!  I'm told I went shopping, took the kids to eat Chinese food and a bunch of other stuff that I simply don't remember.  (I didn't have any alcohol or non-prescribed medication.) Everyone who interacted with me during the 24-hour time period that I do not remember says I seemed fine.

I have continued with the therapy (I told the therapist what happened), and she is using even lighter touch with fewer reps. We also take breaks for me to drink water when I start to get dizzy. No one seems to know exactly what happened/is happening. I'm small in frame/weight (5'6", 105"). One theory is toxins being released into my bloodstream from the inflamed  tissues. I try to drink alot of water to help dilute whatever is in my blood or lymphatic fluid. If I don't, I also get nauseus and throw up after each treatment.

Has anyone ever heard of this or experienced this? It's scary but I need treatment for the lymphedema! Help!

Thank You and God Bless...~Leslie


Dear Leslie, I have been doing manual lymph drainage (from the Upledger Institute) for five years and have recently become certified in complex decongestive physiotherapy. I have never encountered anyone who had the side effects you've described in your message. I'm wondering if you found out what was causing the blackouts and if the MLD therapy helped your condition. I know that Renee Romero (my MLD instructor) has extensive experience with very severe cases of lymphedema. She might be a resource for you to find an answer to this question. If you are interested, I'll provide her email address. Sincerely, MLD Specialist

RE: Frightening Side Effects of Manual Lymphatic Therapy

by marypratt on Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:08 AM

Quote | Reply

On Sep 22, 2007 12:00 AM Leslie912 wrote:

Any help with this is sincerely appreciated!  I'm scared about continuing with this treatment if I can't find a reasonable explanation.

I underwent a double-mastectomy 9 months ago for cancer in both breasts. Within the past three weeks, I started having truncal lymphedema--first on the right side of my chest and under my right arm and back, then in my left upper chest area. My oncologist diagnosed lymphedema and referred me to an Occupational Therapist for Lymphatic Drainage Massage/Manual Lymphatic Treatment (MLT) and massage on my scars to loosen the tissue.

After my first treatment (which wasn't painful and actually felt good), I completely BLACKED OUT!  I'm told I went shopping, took the kids to eat Chinese food and a bunch of other stuff that I simply don't remember.  (I didn't have any alcohol or non-prescribed medication.) Everyone who interacted with me during the 24-hour time period that I do not remember says I seemed fine.

I have continued with the therapy (I told the therapist what happened), and she is using even lighter touch with fewer reps. We also take breaks for me to drink water when I start to get dizzy. No one seems to know exactly what happened/is happening. I'm small in frame/weight (5'6", 105"). One theory is toxins being released into my bloodstream from the inflamed  tissues. I try to drink alot of water to help dilute whatever is in my blood or lymphatic fluid. If I don't, I also get nauseus and throw up after each treatment.

Has anyone ever heard of this or experienced this? It's scary but I need treatment for the lymphedema! Help!

Thank You and God Bless...~Leslie

I am a licensed massage therapist who has trained in manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), level 2. Within a year I hope to become a trained lymphedema therapist (after college) and work with cancer patients. Swelling/edema is a dangerous thing and this modality is a really important one, especially when someone has lost lymph nodes, and the lymph fluid needs to be rerouted. 

I had a strange experience (after receiving my level 2 training), of suddenly finding myself at the cancer institute getting surgery removing lymph nodes from my neck. It seemed to be lymphoma but turned out to be benign. After surgery, I went to the ER with swelling so bad (leathery, elephantitis), and the doctors had no clue what to do. Then I remembered how to treat it and bring down the swelling. So I have experienced being a patient as well as a caregiver.

There is a difference between manual lymphatic drainage (MLD is more clinical and fluid barely goes under the skin) versus lymphatic massage (massage goes beyond the lymph nodes and into the muscles). A lymphedema therapist will specialize in MLD and Ace wraps. MLD uses precise points, and the therapist should be specialized in the complex lymphatic system. A massage (spa) will break through the tiny capillaries and not be as specific--so note the difference. 

Neither should be used if there is an active inflammation, as it goes systemically through the body. MLD is soothing, and is used to reduce swelling, esp. after surgery, and with a doctor's approval. Patients should be instructed to not eat any fast foods, or anything fatty at least a day prior to treatment, because this will affect treatment and will go through the bloodstream. It does get rid of toxins, so lots of water is necessary. Our lymphatic system is our line of defense against toxins, and can become clogged (like a beaver dam). So it's like a flood gate opening up.  They should be completely aware of what's going on. Your therapist was right to reduce the number of strokes and go lighter. But definitely check with your doctor when you get reactions and maybe take a break from it. Surgery is a traumatic thing that the body goes through, so take MLD in a series of small treatments. 

4 Posts | Page(s): 1 
Subscribe to this message board discussion

Latest Messages

View More

CancerCompass Survey

If you were considering traveling for cancer treatment, which headline would you find more interesting?

Get $75 for taking a research survey

We care about your feedback. Let us know how we can improve your CancerCompass experience.