Negative Pressure Therapy Explained

Lymphoedema refers to a condition in which part of the body becomes swollen due to the impaired flow of lymph. Lymph is a fluid similar in composition to blood plasma – in fact it is derived from blood plasma as fluids pass through arterial capillary walls carrying oxygen and nutrients to the cells in body tissues.

All of the fluids that leak out into the tissues, along with any waste products formed by the cells in the tissues are removed from them by a network of delicate tubes throughout the body, known as the lymphatic system. These small lymphatic capillaries drain into larger lymphatic vessels which have one-way valves that stop the lymph flowing back the wrong way. These lymphatic vessels take the lymph back to the lymph nodes (about 700 in total) which are found in the neck, armpits, groin and many other areas of the body.

The function of these lymph nodes is to filter the lymph and fight infection. Viruses and bacteria picked up from the tissues by cells called macrophages are forced through the lymph nodes, where they are attacked and killed by white blood cells or lymphocytes. More lymphocytes are produced when you have an infection. That is why your lymph nodes tend to swell when you have an infection.

When the lymphatic system is damaged, the fluid builds up and causes swelling. In cases where the lymphatic system is not formed properly, this is known as primary lymphoedema. When the damage is caused by trauma, or surgery or radiotherapy associated with cancer treatment, or some other structural or functional impairment, this is known as secondary lymphoedema.

Symptoms of lymphoedema include swelling, pain, skin discolouration, heaviness in the limbs, weakness, hardening or thickening of the skin and recurring infections.

This video from Cancer Research UK provides a good explanation of the lymphatic system and how it helps our bodies get rid of toxins and and other infections.

The lymphatic drainage system

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Lymphedema can be treated with tight compression bandages or stockings, but the traditional treatment of lymphoedema also includes the technique of manual lymphatic drainage, which involves gently manipulating specific areas of your body to help the lymph move from areas of swelling to an area with working lymph vessels.

Negative Pressure Therapy

Studies have shown that negative pressure therapy treats swelling more effectively than traditional manual lymphatic drainage or massage, resulting in greater reduction of swelling and tissue stiffness.

LymphaTouch is a TGA approved medical device that provides pulsating negative pressure and mechanical vibrations to accelerate lymphatic drainage and relieve swelling. It expands and stretches the skin and tissue in safe, effective, and comfortable motions to relieve discomfort, improve lymphatic flow and reduce swelling.

How LymphaTouch reduces swelling

LymphaTouch works by:

  • negative pressure stretches and expands the tissue
  • the capillary network is activated by moving anchoring filaments in the tissues
  • endothelial holes in the lymph capillaries expand
  • metabolic waste moves into the lymphatic capillary network
  • the pumping mechanism is activated and lymph flow increases further.

This video from Kelly Sturm, a physical therapist in the USA demonstrates LymphaTouch and how it used in a typical negative pressure lymphoedema treatment.

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