What is Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic Massage is a specialized form of Massage Therapy that focuses on restoring normal flow within the lymphatic system.  The lymphatic system drains the extracellular fluid of toxins which are to large to reenter the venous system.  Toxins build up in the extracellular fluid constantly even when we are sleeping.  Things such as prolonger muscle contractions, fighting an infection, repairing tissue in a damaged area and even thinking create toxins.  Many of the toxins are related to energy production within our cells.  When cells are efficiently working they produce very little toxic byproducts but if they are being worked hard such as during exercise, prolonged poor postures, excessive mental stress, or healing an injury or infection the output of toxins increase.  If our lymphatic system is working properly it can remove these toxins and get them to the liver and kidneys to be eliminated.  If our burden is to high or we have blockage of flow in our lymphatic system we start to build up toxic backup in our extracellular fluid.  This back up makes delivery of fresh nutrients to our cells harder not to mention a chronic inflammatory situation begins.

What is our Lymphatic System

Lymphatic Massage

Our Lymphatic system is composed of primary lymph organs and secondary organs.  The primary lymph organs are the thymus and bone marrow.  The primary lymph organs produce and mature blood cells, most importantly relating to the lymphatic system they produce white blood cells.  The secondary lymph organs are the spleen and lymph nodes.  The spleen acts as a sort of filter dealing with dead red blood cells, maturing and storing white blood cells.  The lymph nodes which number 800 in total also house white blood cells where they clean up the extracellular fluid on its way back to the venous system.  The lymph nodes are also junction spots where lymphatic channels drain into.  Please note that all of the lymph channels eventually drain into the subclavian veins in the chest at the base of the neck just under our collar bones.  From their they are back into the regular circulation to be processed by our liver our our kidneys for elimination.  Not all of our lymphatic fluids are toxins, this system also transports fats from our intestines and somatic fat reserves.  Only certain sized fats are absorbed by our intestines directly into our blood flow, we call these types of fats small and medium chain triglycerides.  Remember that the lymphatic system transports molecule’s which are to big to be absorbed in the capillary junctions.  I believe this is because our body is protective about what goes directly into the blood without a thorough vetting by our immune system.  The brain has an even more sensitive protective barrier called the blood brain barrier which excludes larger molecules from getting into its sensitive environment.  Although the brain and spinal chord have no lymph nodes or vessels within the subdural (inside the dural covering of the brain and spinal chord.) space it has its own system of transport of extracellular toxins via specialized cells within the neurons that direct extracellular fluid into channels within the dura matter (covering of the brain and spinal chord) draining into deep cervical neck lymph nodes and into the the part of the nasal cavity following olfactory nerves in the upper nose.  The spinal chord drains into dural lymph channels which empty into lymph nodes at the front of the vertebra.

lymphatic system

The head and neck contain 300 of the 800 lymph nodes to deal with drainage from the brain and the exposure to the outside world in our nose and mouth.  Just imagine the effect congestion of these nodes can have on the functioning of our brains.

What are the symptoms of Lymphatic Dysfunctions

Many symptom’s can arise and many of them overlap with chronic inflammation.  They can very local such as a stiff neck or low back pain as a muscle is being overworked and drainage from the area is insufficient.  They can be in just one extremity such as lymph edema after lymph nodes are removed during cancer treatment.  They can also be systemic effecting many areas.  We see this in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic lymes disease.  Lymphatic massage will benefit all of these symptoms.

  • Bloating
  • Swelling in your fingers/rings fitting more tightly
  • Brain fog
  • Digestive issues
  • Depression
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin problems/dry and or itchy skin
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Feeling sore or stiff when you wake up in the morning
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Excess weight
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Worsened allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Increased colds and flu

What is done during a  Lymphatic Massage?

During a lymphatic massage the pressure is applied first in the areas of the lymph nodes in a slow sweeping motion.  Then the massage is shifted upstream of the lymph nodes and pressure is applied in the direction of the lymph channels towards the lymph note that was just drained.  This sequence is repeated multiple times in the same area and the progresses to the next part of the body.  The lymph node clusters are located behind the knee, the front of the thigh near the groin, behind the elbow, the armpit, and in multiple areas around the neck.  The techniques are painless while being performed and many times the patient will be instructed on how to perform self massage at home.  In our office we also incorporate drainage of the central nervous system cerebrospinal fluid by doing cranial sacral therapy.  Cranial Sacral Therapy is a method which restores the normal rhythmic movements that occur during breathing which facilitate cerebrospinal spinal fluid flow and lymphatic drainage of the central nervous system.  During a cranial sacral treatment gentle tugging and pressing procedures are done on the head and sacrum to optimizes normal motion during breathing.


Creative Writing for Pain Control

Creative Writing

Creative writing for pain control is a powerful tool to disconnect stressful thoughts from affecting your body.  Holding on to thought patterns which you are usually not even aware of can have detrimental effects on your wellbeing.  Our minds tend to cycle thoughts without us being aware of them.  Thoughts are very powerful on the nervous system and can have both positive and negative effects.  Problems arise when you are cycling negative thoughts resulting in heightening of the stress response in your nervous system.  The stress response releases many chemical mediators and activates our fight or flight nervous system.  When the stress response keeps running for long periods of time we start to exhibit anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive thoughts, and pain.  In my practice of Chiropractic I see the relationship of stress and pain on a daily basis.  The majority of my patients are not coming in for a traumatic injury.  They usually state that the pain just came on slowly over time and now they can no longer deal with it.  Chiropractic is a very effective method of treating pain in most cases but I find some patients that I treat respond slow to care or come back for flare ups of pain.  I introduce the Creative Writing techniques to people who are in obvious need of stress reduction as a part of their care.  The response when followed daily is amazing not just in their pain but in the feeling of peace attained by purging the cycling thoughts from the mind.

After discussing the basis as I just did above I hand my patients a pad of legal paper an give them the following instructions.

Start a routine of creative writing. Creative writing can provide a temporary distraction, while also improving your mood and decreasing anxiety. Why? Because it takes your mind off of the immediate problems and harmful thoughts that would otherwise engulf you. Journaling, and other forms of creative writing, can provide a safe place for you to let go of any bottled emotions and obsessive thought patterns. You can experience genuine self-expression through writing, without fear of judgment or over-analysis. Whether you realize it or not, you’re sharing a piece of yourself when you participate in the creative process. So when you sit down to write, it will bring out the background thoughts driving your stress.

Use this pad of paper to start writing down your thoughts.  Every day spend 15-30 minutes writing any thought that comes to mind. It is important to do this on paper and not an electronic device.  The pen and paper method will keep your writing connected to you only.  It can be as simple as “I feel hungry”, “I am concerned about my meeting at work today”, “is my pain a sign of something more wrong with me”.  As you practice this daily routine you will find it easy to perform and the writing will flow very easily. You will find this practice will decrease your stress and pain in a very short time.  I recommend doing this everyday even when you are feeling calm.  Life is always adding new stress and this exercise can be your outlet to let go of obsessive thoughts and patterned behaviors.

When you are done writing do not reread what you wrote or analyze what you wrote.  Fold it up then rip it into pieces and throw it out. I find that after I am done writing I feel a sense of peace.

I also encourage them to spend a little time after writing to do deep breathing exercises after they have cleared their mind of current thoughts they are cycling.  Focusing on slow inhalations and controlled exhalations.  Taking the time to focus their awareness on their body and surroundings.

  • Notice different sounds or smells in the room.
  • Notice the feeling of your clothes on your body.
  • Notice how thoughts randomly float into and out of awareness.
  • Notice tension of muscles in the face and let them relax.