Treatments for Lymphoedema
I was lucky enough to train last year with the wonderful Sally Kay. Sally is a Reflexologist working in Cancer Care Outpatient Clinics. She has developed a reflexology technique that stimulates specific lymphatic reflexes on the feet, which reduces the build up of fluid, in the arm and around the shoulder, following treatment for Breast Cancer. Her initial research results were sufficiently encouraging for the NHS Ethics Committee to agree to funding for further research into this technique.
Cancer of the breast is still the most common cancer in the U.K. It can affect both men and women, though the incidence is much higher in women. 20% of those who have breast cancer go on to develop secondary lympoedema.
What is Lymphoedema?
Following surgery or radiotherapy to the lymph nodes under the arm, the person can be left with a swollen arm or swelling around the shoulder area. The area swells because the lymph struggles to move the fluid away from the area.
Thankfully, treatment of breast cancer has greatly improved in recent years meaning that 2 out of 3 women survive over 20 years from being diagnosed with breast cancer.
However, if you are unlucky enough to have secondary lymphoedema, you struggle not only with the pain and discomfort of a swollen arm and shoulder, but also have difficulty finding clothes that fit you properly, and may feel constantly self conscious about your appearance.
This reflexology technique has been shown to relieve pain and discomfort by reducing the volume of fluid in the arm. The results that Sally, and the many therapists she has trained in this technique are getting, are very encouraging.
To date, fluid retention has been helped either by manual lymphatic drainage or by the use of pressure garments. Therapists qualified in Manual Lymphatic drainage are few and far between, so having a reflexology technique that can potentially achieve the same results makes it accessible to so many more clients.
As a practising therapist, I use the technique frequently in my treatments sessions, not just with clients who have lympoedema. I have personally found it to be helpful for a range of clients. In particularly, clients with M.E, Fibromyalgia and M.S have found it improves their energy levels. It can also be helpful at this time of the year in relieving those typically hay fever symptoms, congested sinuses or sinus headaches. It can be incorporated into a reflexology sessions very easily, and for clients who have already been through the very invasive cancer treatment process it is a very gentle non- invasive technique that can be incorporated into a relaxing and nurturing reflexology treatment.