Last month I was honoured to be invited to speak about RLD at two reflexology conferences. The first, Reflexology in Europe RiEN, was held on the beautiful island of Madeira, and the second, was The Clinical Reflexology in Palliative care conference at The Christie Hospital. It was exciting to be able to share some interim data from the research. So far so good!
We have entered the final stages of the study, 20 of the participants have finished, a further 7 are currently receiving RLD treatments and we still have space for a further 3. There's still time, if you know anyone with secondary lymphoedema of the arm, as result of treatment for breast cancer, living near Cardiff, to take part.
While in Madeira, one of the delegates had a some lymphoedema, which was exacerbated by the flight and heat. Swelling was evident, (without measuring) particularly in the hand, as seen above. After 40 minute RLD, visible changes can be seen here, particularly to the appearance of the skin.
Something I often get asked is, how long do the effects of RLD last?
A consideration for the design of future RLD research.......... but until then I'm delighted to share this
The photograph was taken when I met one of the participants who has already taken part in the current RLD research. She was excited to show me her hand (which had bothered her greatly, eleven weeks ago at the beginning of the study), it featured in the last Blog entry
Continuing with self-management, as recommended by the lymphoedema service is important, this may include, skin care, exercise and wearing compression garments, and could help to prolong the benefits of RLD treatment.
Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the benefits of RLD may last for months in some cases, but this does vary from person to person. Many things affect the accumulation of lymph, usually it gradually builds up slowly before becoming noticeable.
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RLD and Liposuction
"I have been using your Lymphatic drainage method so much over the past 6 months and cant tell you how chuffed I am to know how to do it and how to adapt it according to the clients needs. The results are quite amazing, I am awestruck by it. I have done your lymphatic drainage treatment on a few ladies who have had Liposuction treatments on their tummies and it has worked so well with them.... Their doctors have all been amazed by their progress after two RLD treatments. They are amazed that bruising doesn't get disturbed, like with manual drainage."
RLD and Lymphoedema in the leg
"Love the treatment and using it with my long standing client who has lymphoedema in legs (and had one leg operated on in June) and seeing good results....she feels the same sensations as when she has MLD treatments... so she is pleased.
I have another client with problems after breast surgery that I am going to use as a case study in a few weeks. However, I have quite a number of clients who have lymphoedema in the feet and legs and wanted to see if RLD would help them also. I am working with one lady as a guinea pig (who I have had as a client for a number of years)....she is in her 30s and has had lymphoedema since she was 6 yrs old after a knock in the playground... not diagnosed until she was 13 !! but she suffers especially with her swollen feet. I have done 2 treatments and, although not massive changes in measurements in legs, the feet are taking on a normal shape and she had noticed an immediate result when putting on her shoes/boots....her family have noticed the change in appearance also, so she is thrilled as she says this is the most painful part especially towards the end of the day. She says her toes wiggle and her ankles feel light !!! The results lasted between the treatments which were 16 days apart."
Interestingly I'm also hearing from reflexologists who are using RLD with clients and patients who are suffering lymphoedema swelling in other parts of the body. Yesterday I met a reflexologist who told me about a treatment she gave a patient with severe Ascites. Both the reflexologist and the patient were amazed by how much RLD seemed to help with the discomfort.
There has also been a very interesting case using RLD to help lipoedema, hopefully the reflexologist is going to write a blog entry for us to share and learn from.
At home, later that evening she and her husband re-measured her arm, their measurements suggest that the fluid volume had
Two days ago I was a guest speaker at NACTHPC (National Association of Complementary Therapists in Hospice and Palliative Care) conference, and what a lovely audience they were! I spoke for an hour about RLD, from the thinking behind it, the process of conducting clinical research, the results, limitations of the study and plans for ongoing and future research.
The audience were practitioners of a range of complementary therapies and not all of them were reflexologists. Some of the delegates were MLD Lymphoedema specialists, one of whom made a very interesting observation about the RLD results. It seems that during a 3 week intensive course of MLD treatment, they would expect to see a similar patter of results. The initial treatment yields the greatest reduction, with subsequent treatments given to consolidate the results.
RLD is still very much in its infancy, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the results from the initial research, please see the graph below.
The rheumatologist wants her to start taking Methotrexate, a low dose chemotherapy drug, used to limit inflammation, which helps to reduce signs and stmptoms of the disease, such as pain and swelling. Taking this course of treatment would mean giving up on having another baby. As part of the reflexology I used RLD, hoping it may help to reduce swelling and inflammation.
(I was sure it would work but didn't say anything)
During the reflexology she felt tingling in her arms, hands and fingers, (normally felt during RLD in clients with lymphoedema). Immediately after the session her fingers were more flexible and swelling seemed to have gone down. She left feeling relaxed and happy and I didn't hear from her again until last week, when she returned, asking for the same again! Her hands have been much better, and she's been able to wear her wedding ring.!
Feedback from the first session ~ her hands felt unexpectedly easier, she thought at best she'd get a few days relief, which would have been a real bonus. In reality, the relief lasted two whole months before some of the discomfort began to return!
The second reflexology treatment was as before, and she felt the same tingling sensations and an immediate improvement!
Watch this space......
I have had an interesting experience. My left leg usually carries a lot of fluid from a previous ankle injury and a knee operation last June. Since this I have had a pocket of fluid under the knee on the shin and into the calf. Also my left ankle or cankle as they are now described!!! was very puffy on the medial ankle. On getting up this morning my left leg appears to have lost some fluid and appears to me to have reduced in size and looks much more like the size of my right leg. My leg in general feels much lighter and flexible. I know the focus of the treatment was the upper body but perhaps the treatment yesterday in moving the upper body lymph has encouraged the rest of the body to move also. I have had general reflexology before to try and make some impact on my leg but have not had such a significant result previously. It is definitely worth adapting the routine to encourage lymph drainage for other body parts.
During the treatment she could feel movement, like a wave of fluid, the pain disappeared and to the delight of everyone in the room so did swelling collected in the surrounding areas. It was fantastic for the group to witness the possibilities of RLD!
This client was the 'case-study' in the recent FHT article and as such has been receiving RLD since the research although only 2-3 times a year since taking part in the research (intervention phase January 2011). I have not seen her affected arm as swollen as it was prior to participating in the research.
She was so responsive to RLD during yesterdays session that I wonder if the benefits are cumulative?
Reflexology Lymph Drainage
RLD is a reflexology technique which stimulates specific lymphatic reflexes on the feet. Developed & researched by Sally Kay to help with the management of secondary lymphoedema in patients affected by treatment for breast cancer. Further research into RLD is planned and training days are available for reflexology practitioners.