Reflexology Lymph Drainage is an evidence based, ground breaking reflexology technique. It focuses on stimulating the reflexes on the feet that relate to the lymphatic system. It appears to benefit cancer patients who experience lymphoedema (swelling of the arm) following medical intervention. After breast cancer, a person may experience psychological or emotional difficulties due to altered body image, and a swollen limb can exacerbate this. Although there is no cure, RLD may help manage the symptoms.
During the appointment, measurements may be taken of the affected limbs and then a very relaxing reflexology based treatment will be given. This treatment is designed to mimic the sequence and results achieved by Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage (MLD) and it involves lots of wonderful sweeping massage techniques. Afterwards the measurements will be repeated so that any reduced volume will be apparent.
Breast Cancer and Lymphoedema
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. According to Cancer Research UK (2011), the lifetime risk of developing it in the UK is 1:8 for women and 1:1014 for men. Approximately 20% of these patients develop secondary lymphoedema of the arm following treatment for breast cancer.
Lymphoedema is defined as tissue swelling due to the failure of lymph drainage. After breast cancer, a person may experience psychological or emotional difficulties due to altered body image, and a swollen limb can exacerbate this. Research suggests that survivors with lymphoedema are more likely to suffer psychological and emotional difficulties, be more disabled, and experience a poorer quality of life than survivors without the condition. Improved breast cancer survival rates suggest that approximately 2:3 women survive the disease beyond 20 years. This means that more people are living longer with this debilitating side effect for which there is currently no cure.
Although the technique was originally developed to treat lymphoedema of the arm we believe it benefits lymphoedema elsewhere in the body.
A small research study has already been carried out by Sally Kay, the originator of this technique: Reflexology for the management of secondary lymphoedema in patients affected by treatment for breast cancer: An exploratory study. Findings of this exploratory study suggest that RLD (Reflexology Lymphaphatic Drainage) may be helpful in the management of secondary lymphoedema.
A more robust research design is needed to test for a causal link between the application of reflexology and possible outcome benefit and the NHS Local Health Board Research Ethics Committee (REC) has agreed ethical approval for the proposed application, to conduct further research into Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD).