Manual Lymphatic Drainage- Effects, Indications and Contraindications

The Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a manual therapy to facilitate the lymphatic circulation. It is used when there is an accumulation of liquid or substances in the connective tissue and when the lymphatic system is altered.

Effects of Manual Lymphatic Drainage

The massage of manual lymph drainage has the following effects in our organism:

Sympatholytic Action

Sympatholytic action refers to all those substances that reduce or completely suppress the action of the Sympathetic Nervous System (a system that puts us on alert, prepares us for action or fight). With the inhibition of the Sympathetic Nervous System allows the Parasympathetic Nervous System act with greater force (achieving or achieving with this action the relaxation of the patient, a total state of rest).

Analgesic action

Manual lymphatic drainage produces analgesia through several mechanisms, among which we can mention 3:

  • By decreasing the local pressure by stimulating the drainage of inflammation or fluid accumulation, the free nerve endings cease to be stimulated.
  • Massage represents a stimulus for the mechanoreceptors, which will cause the transmission of nocioceptive impulses (pain impulses) that travels through certain nerve endings (thick nerve endings) to be inhibited. That is to say: the brain gives priority to the stimulus of massage, and ‘forgets’ the painful stimulus.
  • As it helps to evacuate substances from the connective tissue, it helps to evacuate toxic substances whose accumulation produces the stimulation of the nerve endings of pain.


As mentioned before, the Lymphatic Drainage Massage has a sympatholytic effect. By increasing the activity of the parasympathetic system a state of relaxation occurs, and craniosomatic therapy that produces relaxation will induce the sedation of the patient.

Immune Action

The maneuvers of the Lymphatic Drainage Massage favor the immunological mechanisms of the organism, by stimulating the movement of the lymph and the action of the lymph nodes.

Draining Action

It is the most important action of drainage. Lymphatic Drainage will facilitate the evacuation of fluid and connective tissue substances. On the one hand, the draining effect is based on the evacuation of substances and fluid from the superficial tissue, and secondarily it will favor the deeper lymphatic circulation because it favors the automatism of lymphangions by making the lymphatic vessels fill with lymph.

Fundamental Indications of Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Thanks to the effects produced by the manual lymphatic drainage massage that we discussed before (its simapticolítica action, its analgesic action, its immune action and its draining action), it is indicated in many pathologies that occur with pain, hyperexcitation of the nervous system, edema or inflammation. Among these pathologies we can mention:

  • Acne
  • Constipation
  • Stress and chronic fatigue (due to its relaxing effect)
  • Any process that occurs with acute pain due to its analgesic effect is a good initial treatment, before other more aggressive therapies
  • Aesthetic procedures (do you know what benefits the manual lymphatic drainage massage in the body and your figure?

Contraindications of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage

In spite of all the benefits that the application of the Lymphatic Drainage Massage brings, there are pathologies in which its application is not possible or it must be applied with special attention to its effects. That is why we classify the following pathologies into 2 groups: a group of absolute contraindications (in which the application of the Lymphatic Drainage Massage is strictly forbidden because it can worsen the person’s condition) and a group of relative contraindications (in those that the Lymphatic Drainage Massage can be applied, but with great caution to the appearance of any harmful effect in the person).

Absolute contraindications

  • Uncontrolled malignancies that have metastasized
  • Acute infections
  • Decompensated cardiac insufficiencies (because with the DLM we are increasing the cardiac output because we increase the venous return)
  • Recent thrombosis

Relative Contraindications OR Precautions

  • Hyperthyroidism should be avoided to the first string node and should stimulate term slightly lateral to the normal position
  • Hypotension: You can do DLM progressively, starting with short sessions and go slowly progressing, progressing as the patient adapts
  • Chronic infections: The area of infection must be avoided
  • Tumors treated or controlled: Perform remote drainage of the tumor
  • Bronchial asthma: Any maneuver on the sternum should be avoided, as it has many parasympathetic nerve endings, and asthma is a bronchospasm associated with stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Pregnancy: Manual lymphatic drainage can be performed in the absence of complications


Ema Smith
About ema smith 18 Articles
Hi I am Ema. I like to write, traveling and gardening.

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