MLD-CDT stands for Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy. This therapy is used to help reduce the swelling that occurs with lymphedema, and then to maintain the reduced size of the area affected.
MLD is a hands-on therapy, where the therapist gently and slowly stretches the skin.
This is different from what most people consider massage to be, as only the skin is moved and the pressure is very light.
The direction and type of movement is designed to aid the lymphatic system in moving lymph away from the congested area to an area that is able to handle the additional lymph load, and to speed up the rate at which lymph is moving through the body.
This type of treatment may be helpful for other types of swelling/edema, such as injuries (sprained ankle), post-surgery (tummy tuck), swelling due to arthritis, etc.
CDT includes the use of bandaging, compression garments, exercise/movement, self-care, and MLD to decrease and control lymphedema.
Bandaging may be done with layered short-stretch bandages overtop foam or other padding and a cotton stockinette to protect the skin, which needs to be re-done every 1-2 days.
The other option is to use a type of wrap that can be tightened on an as-needed basis, but this option is generally not as effective or as quick in reducing the size of the affected area.
Compression garments are used once the affected area has reduced to an acceptable size to help maintain the reduction.
Depending on the cause of lymphedema, these garments may be partially covered by the Assistive Devices Program (ADP).
Please note that none of the garments sold at Manual Therapies are covered by ADP, as an ADP certified fitter is required to measure and order the garments.
Exercise and movement are essential to maintaining a healthy lymphatic system. When muscles move, they apply pressure against the lymphatic vessels and help them pump lymph from one area to another. When lymphedema occurs, the lymphatic system needs more help to move the lymph, so movement becomes even more important.
Self-care includes inspecting and maintaining skin for optimal health. Lymphedema can cause the skin to crack, harden, and be more likely to develop a bacterial infection called cellulitis (not cellulite!).