Reflexology Lymph Drainage

Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) is a ground breaking and award winning technique, used by specially trained reflexologists to target symptoms of secondary lymphoedema, after treatment for breast cancer.  Up to 20% of breast cancer patients develop lymphoedema symptoms such as painful swelling, stiffness or difficulties with body image.

Pioneered at Cardiff Metropolitan University by Sally Kay, RLD is performed via the feet reflex points targeting the body’s lymphatic system, RLD mimics the effects of simple manual lymph drainage techniques promote correct drainage of lymphatic fluid.  

Early indications are that RLD can result in:

  • significant reduction of swelling
  • reduction in pain and discomfort
  • increase in arm mobility and strength
  • improvement of wellbeing and body image

These pictures taken before and after a treatment as part of the most recent research trial illustrate reduction in swelling.

Can having a treatment on the feet really help the swelling in an arm or hand?

The RLD technique has been developed in outpatient clinics. Following an initial study, Sally Kay and a team from Cardiff Metropolitan University carried out a research study on 26 women with lymphoedema funded by Tenovus Cancer Care. This indicated that 4 sessions of RLD significantly reduced arm swelling and reduced patients’ concerns about pain and mobility and improved their wellbeing. These improvements appeared to last for at least six months. Because the treatment is given on the feet rather than via direct MLD over the affected areas, it can avoid discomfort that may be experienced during the MLD treatment.

What happens in a RLD reflexology treatment?

I will take a medical and personal history. You will be asked to remove any compression garments so that the size of both your arms can be measured. The reflexology treatment will then be given with you resting comfortably in a recliner. Your feet will be massaged and precise pressure techniques used on specific areas. These techniques should not be painful but you may feel tender points indicating imbalance in the relevant reflexes.  At the end of the treatment your arms will be measured again in order to assess the effects of the treatment on the swelling. The treatment will usually take from 30 to 60 minutes.

How many treatments should you have?

In the initial study, the first treatment gave the biggest reduction in swelling with following treatments helping to further reduce the swelling and improve other symptoms. It is usually recommended to have 4 to 6 weekly treatments initially with a regular (less frequent) maintenance plan thereafter. The recent research study indicated that effects can last for up to six months.  Please contact me if you would like to discuss this further.

Benefits for other related conditions

Although the research to date and referred to above is specific to secondary lymphoedema in patients affected by treatment for breast cancer, this specific reflexology technique can also be used to help with other conditions affected by the lymphatic system such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Sinus problems
  • Asthm
  • Migraines
  • Eczema
  • Headaches
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Muscular tension
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Aches and Pains
  • ME
  • Premenstrual Syndrome