Exciting new research has been published into the effects of lymphatic drainage techniques used in foot reflexology on unilateral secondary lymphoedema.
Reflexologist Sally Kay has researched and developed reflexology lymphatic drainage (RLD) to help manage secondary lymphoedema following breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in the UK,with one in eight women at risk of developing it in their lifetime ( Breast Cancer UK 2011). Approximately 20% of these develop secondary lymphoedema of the arm following treatment which includes radiotherapy or surgery. Secondary lymphoedema is a progressive debilitating condition causing swelling in the tissue in and under the arm, pain in the shoulder, weakness and problems with everyday activities.
The study involved women with lymphoedema receiving RLD weekly for six weeks. As the weeks passed clients reported less discomfort and swelling and an increase in arm mobility. The circumference of the effected arm was measured and the study showed a statistically significant reduction in arm volume.
This study involved only a small group of subjects therefore more research is needed to confirm the results but the evidence so far is positive. One participant stated "I feel like I've got my arm back" while another explained " I'm not embarrassed to take my cardigan off, which has given me my confidence back"
Following more research a course for reflexologists will be designed to train qualified therapists in the techniques of RLD. Im looking forward to completing the course and sharing this technique with clients who may benefit.