Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) and Pain Management

by richard on February 4, 2015

I just completed my first Dr Vodder re-certification and review last weekend. There were many fantastic things about the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday sessions that are worth mentioning, the hand technique review by Hildegard Wittlinger, the original pupil of Dr Vodder, being a definite highlight. She is the recognized master of Manual Lymph Drainage and is still practicing.

Enough about that, what I want to talk about today is the way in which Manual Lymph Drainage relieves pain.

One of the lymphatic systems’ main functions is to control fluid balance. Another way to say this is the lymphatic system controls swelling and inflammation. It’s true that inflammation is a normal part of the body’s healing process. It is also true that when a part of your body is swollen or inflamed (healing) it is often painful, too.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. March 2012 reports that 1 in 3 people, or approximately 100 million, in United States experience chronic pain.

Here is a partial list of the kinds of pain that people present with for treatment. MLD is effective in managing:

  1. Low Back pain                
  2. TMJ
  3. Arthritis
  4. Headache and Migraine
  5. Cancer Pain
  6. Fibromyalgia
  7. Neuropathic pain
  8. Complex Regional pain syndromes
  9. Tendinopathies
  10. Adhesive capsulitis
  11. Sprains
  12. Postoperative pain
  13. Pelvic Floor Pain

The mechanisms of how and why we feel pain are wonderfully complex. Different conditions effect our nervous in different ways, but the result is the same, pain. Here are some conditions that affect the nervous system (Somatosensory Nervous system) in different ways.

MLD is a very good way to manage the pain from all of these conditions:

  1. Toxic             (Chemo-raditation effects)
  2. Metabolic (diabetes, alcohol abuse)
  3. Trauma (CRPS)
  4. Compressive (nerve entrapment)
  5. Autoimmune (chronic inflammatory demyelization polyneuropathy)
  6. Infections (post-herpetic, Lyme’s disease)


Manual Lymph Drainage is able to decrease the level of pain a person feels for two very important reasons:

  1. MLD decreases swelling and reduces inflammation. Swelling and inflammation occur around tissues that are healing from a wound or are damaged by disease. For example, a wound from a surgical procedure, a bruise, a deep cut (laceration), muscle pain caused by over use, pain from nervous system disorders, can cause pressure and irritation. MLD decongests that swollen tissue and relieves the inflammation and reduces the pressure. This, in turn, reduces the pain.


  1. MLD has a positive, calming effect on the overall nervous system. MLD is a very comfortable, soothing, rhythmic, yet very powerful form of body work that “calms the signals” to the brain that register pain.



Here’s the take away. Pain affects 1 in 3 people in the United States. This pain may come from a variety of different causes, but when it’s your pain you just want it to stop. One simple, effective way to manage pain is with Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). MLD is comfortable, relaxing, it feels good and it has helped many people manage their pain and feel better.


Richard Maas is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Lymphatic Therapist, drummer, and gardener. He and his wife Dianne started practicing massage in 1990.

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