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So, what’s a Lymphatic System anyway?

So here I am writing the inaugural “blog” for my new web site. If you know me at all, you know the hamster is working overtime on that wheel in my brain. You’ll have to excuse me. I tend to use furry animal analogies to convey my levels of confusion when it comes to anything technical. Computer language especially is a nemesis of mine.  

First I had to figure out exactly what a “blog” really was so I went to an expert. Uh… well at least someone who knows a lot more about computers than I do. I figured, Jon Cooper, the guy who’s designing my web site would be a good source.

“Well, you write about recent news in your industry. You know. Then we link it to Twitter so folks can follow you. Your readers can click on an icon to post to Facebook or back to their Twitter feed.” As I stared blankly at him, I heard a distressed squeak and loud clatter between my ears as my hamster fell of the wheel.

Ok. Industry news… Well between developing a website and treating clients lately, I’m a little embarrassed I haven’t had much time to sit and read any articles. I resigned myself to tracking down such information to help construct a viable blog.

As Jon and I wrapped up our website pre-launch meeting, he said, “Hey, before you go, I have to ask you something. I’ve been reading the testimonials you gave me to post and I gotta ask, what’s this lymphatic system all about?” As I explained to him about the lymphatic system I realized, I could share this in my first blog! Voila! My first blog article is born and my hamster is back on the wheel clipping along at an impressive rate!!

What Jon had seen that piqued his interest was the vast array results my clients claimed they received from lymphatic treatment. How could this come from only one type of modality? In order to explain, a brief anatomy lesson is in order. (If you have one when it comes to anatomy, I promise to go easy on your respective hamsters.)

When you need to clean the water in a large aquarium, you use a fish tank filter. The filter doesn’t take all the water out of the tank, clean it, and pour it back in. It filters a little at a time and continues to do so constantly. In a nutshell, your lymphatic system is the filter in your fish tank. We human beings are basically big bags of water. Sure, we have blood but you’ll only find that inside a vessel. Outside of the vessel is what is called “insterstitial fluid” – and it’s everywhere in the body. Components found in interstitial fluid include amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, coenzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, salts and waste products from cells. Normally, the veins will reabsorb some of these substances but others are simply too big to fit through the fenestrations (small window like openings) in the veins. That’s where the lymphatic system comes in.

The lymphatic system returns to the heart the components that are too big to be reabsorbed by the veins. The lymphatic system runs parallel to the venous system and terminates at the left angulus venosus (the convergence of blood vessels located behind your left collar bone). There it dumps back into the circulatory system to be sent to the respective waste removal areas (lungs, kidneys, large & small intestine, liver). Because of this action, the lymphatic system is considered a major cleaning system in your body but it’s more than that. Other documented functions include regulating swelling, transporting B & T cells for immune system ammunition, and assisting in metabolism of fats.

So what does this all mean when it comes to helping someone with pain or numbness?

Well without getting overly technical, consider scarring in general. It looks different. Puckering and restricted. There’s not much hydration in the area. Without adequate blood or lymphatic flow to an area of scaring, cellular debris and swelling may prevent nerves from regenerating in the area causing numbness or may cause pressure on existing nerves resulting in pain. With lymphatic drainage, compromised areas can receive assistance in evacuating debris and swelling thus allowing the body to re-establish proper nerve function. This kind of result makes lymphatic work ideal for anything from a recent injury, trauma or surgery to incidents that may have occurred decades ago and still the effects are evident.

Simply put, lymphatic work is ideal for most issues involving swelling, immune system enhancement, and health and proper function of the nervous system. Hmm….. Surgeries, injuries, illness, general aches and pains? Wow! That’s pretty incredible, don’t you think? I do this work all the time and the results still blow me away. I’ve seen scarring and swelling disappear right before my eyes. In some cases, I’ve had to make a concerted effort to prevent giving myself a high five or fist pump in mid session to celebrate (I usually wait until the client leaves the studio before engaging in my Victory Lymphatic Dance).

“What about Lymphedema you ask? Well it’s most definitely a topic to be discussed under this heading but we’ll save that for my next blog. My hamster is getting the hang of this but he is kinda tired. It’s been a long day and tomorrow he still has to figure out why my new printer software isn’t loading right… {SQUEAK! CLATTER}…