Mechanical lymphatic drainage

What is mechanical lymphatic draining, and how it works?
Lymfa pristrojova

Mechanical lymphatic drainage or also known as pressotherapy is effective, modern and gentle therapy of lymphatic system. At the same time it is popular for its relaxing and cosmetic effects. Given the shorter time, the therapist needs during the therapy (only in the beginning when opening lymph nodes) it is also cheaper service than manual lymphatic drainage. It helps with general regeneration of the organism after injury, operation or overload, detoxification of organism, improved intermediary metabolism, increased physical condition and immunity.

Mechanic lymphatic drainage is used also for healing edemas by the air bags (legs, arms, vest …). Inside these air bags are chambers, that are inflated by pre-set program. Simple rule is applied, the more chambers are in the bag, the more effective the therapy will be. On our market are usually bags for legs and arms with 3 chambers (which is for treatment of the lymphedema insufficient), or leg air bags with 24 chambers, and arm bags with 14 chambers (this number is ideal). At the same time, the rules of setting optimal pressures, is important so the compression would be sufficient and at the same time the pressure would not damage the lymphatic system.

Function of lymphatic system

Capillaries are securing the outlet of inclusion bodies (catabolites), toxins, pathogenic organisms, but also minerals and excess water, etc… from extracellular space. In case the lymphatic system gets damaged (for example: injury, cancer, muscle overload, …) it leads to accumulation of lymph in extracellular space, and formation of lymphedema. At the same time the immunity system can start to fail and tiredness will set in. Lymphatic system has no auxiliary source of lymph in blood vessels, as it is for example by the bloodstream, which is being pumped by heart. The lymph is „pumped” by muscle activity. Therefore people who have a sitting job are usually affected by edemas of the lower limbs.


Disorder of the lymphatic system

  • Primary lymphedema (caused by congenital disorder of lymphatic system)
  • Secondary lymphedema (invoked by injury, infection, disruption of blood vessels during operation or malignant tumor)

When is the mechanical lymphatic drainage optional (indication)

  • For athletically active people, lymphatic drainage supports faster reduction of inclusion bodies from intermediary metabolism, regeneration of muscles and other tissues (for example: runners, hockey players, footballers etc…)
  • After joint operation, after 12 days (the wound must be healed)
  • After oncological illness (when the K-markers are negative in the blood examination)
  • With gynecological problems from example: dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), sterility
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (varicose veins, tromboflebitis, atherosclerosis, phlebitis,...)
  • Prevention of inflammation of the deep venous system before and after planned operation
  • In therapy of venous ulcers (ulcus cruris)
  • For diabetics (neuropathy, angiopathy)
  • In therapy for arthrosis of hips, knees and ankle
  • Primary and secondary lymphedema
  • Oncological indications only after treatment of carcinoma and metastasis (resection of the nodes after radiotherapy, …)
  • Pain of blood vessel origin (atherosclerosis of arteries, venous thrombosis, varicose veins, blockage of lymphatic system, ...)
  • Therapy of venous ulcers (resting stage)
  • Blood circulatory disorder (Reynaud´s disease, acrocyanosis)
  • Extreme muscles overload
  • Cellulite - (lymphatic drainage servers as auxiliary method in therapy, ultrasound, cryotherapy)
  • Liposuction (after operation and non-invasive procedures)


When not to use the mechanical lymphatic drainage (contraindication)

  • Skin diseases, (mycosis, inflammation of skin and soft tissues, open wounds, purulent wound, bedsore in acute stage) = health reasons
  • Oncological disease in acute phase = risk of spreading the disease
  • Heart diseases (coronary artery disease, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, uncontrolled hypertension, hypotension, …) = increased circulation of lymph leads to pouring of bigger amount of lymph into bloodstream. Heart muscles has to manage the increased
  • capacity flow
  • Serious lung diseases (bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, obstrukční choroba plicní, pulmonary edema, …) = also linked to heart capacity
  • Serious kidney and liver diseases = can lead to bigger overload of internal organs
  • Stroke
  • Hyperthyroidism (excessive production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland)
  • Neurological diseases (epilepsy, neuropathy, plexopathy, …)
  • Undiagnosed stomach problems
  • Acute vein inflammation (Thrombophlebitis)
  • Acute infectional disease (flu virosis, increased physical temperature, …)
  • Osteosynthesis and endoprosthesis in healed area



Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd, Prague 

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