What Is Lymph And How Does It Transport?
The arterial blood carries oxygen, nutrients to the cells. Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels with a very thin wall. At the tissue levels, oxygen and nutrients enters the cells when the blood moves through the capillaries. Then, 90% of fluids and waste products returns as the venous blood to the circulation. A 10% of fluid that remains leaks out from the tissues and goes to the lymphatic system as lymph. Bigger molecules such as some protein, waste, cellular debris, bacteria, viruses, and excess fat that is too big to carry by the venous blood remains and form lymph.
Lymph from the lower part of the body travels upwards towards the neck, enters the subclavian vein, and joins the venous blood. Lymph from head and neck also drains to the junction between the internal jugular vein and subclavian vein in the neck. Unlike the blood, circulation there is no pump to circulate lymph but valves are present so, that lymph will flow in one direction. The forward flow of lymph is due to the pressure gradient created by the muscle contractions and respiratory movements. Along the way, the lymphatic organs filter it and clean lymphatic fluid that travels towards the neck.
Why Do We Massage Lymph Nodes?
Lymphatic massage or lymph node massage is a special type of massage, done to move the lymph fluid back to heart by increasing the lymph flow. Lymphatic system is a large system, majority of the lymphatic vessels (70%) are located just underneath the skin. By using very light pressures in a circular motion, a lymph node massage therapist can stimulate the lymph fluid to move back to heart through the lymphatic system. When doing the massage do not limit the massage to the area affected, it is important to massage the areas that surround the affected area as well. Try to do a complete massage if possible.
Lymph node massage is beneficial to anyone, it should not be limited to people who have certain disease that cause lymphedema (the causes mentioned above). Since lymphatic massage is a self-massage that can be done at home easily, everyone should try to do it.
The main advantages from lymphatic massage or lymph node massage are:
- Increases the immunity and protect you from infections.
- Lymphatic massage reduces the toxic substances in the body by neutralizing them and removing the substances.
- Increase the production of lymphocytes, thus enhancing the immune system.
- It relieves the stress and anxiety.
How Does Lymph Blockage Occur?
Some people have primary lymphedema where your vessels are unable to adequately drain the lymph due to a blockage, damage or defect in the lymphatic system, therefore lymph get collected especially in the extremities.
Majority of lymphedema occurs due to Secondary causes (called secondary lymphedema) which damage and interrupt the lymphatic vessels.
Some of the causes for secondary lymphedema are:
- Treatment for cancer can include removing of some parts of the lymphatic system.
- Venous diseases
- Trauma and injury
- Inadequate drainage of lymph occurs because
- The lymphatic system does not have a proper pumping system it depends on the muscle and joint movements.
The above-mentioned causes can decrease the lymphatic drainage further.
Lymphatic fluid consists of water, toxic waste products from the cells and other larger molecules that are not carried by the venous blood. The main function of the lymphatic system is to remove the waste products and carry this fluid to the heart. Unlike the blood circulation, the lymphatic system does not have a pumping mechanism. The forward flow of lymph is due to the pressure gradient created by the muscle contractions and respiratory movements. Therefore, it can get easily stagnant due to primary and secondary reasons. Secondary reasons count for majority of causes and it includes removal of parts of lymphatic system for cancer treatment, infections, trauma, radiotherapy, obesity, and immobility. Lymphatic massage or lymph node massage is a special type of massage, done to move the lymph fluid back to the heart by increasing the lymph flow. It is beneficial to anyone, especially to people with lymphedema.
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