Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes swelling in the body's tissues.

It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs. It develops when the lymphatic system does not work properly.

After breast cancer, a person may experience psychological or emotional difficulties due to altered body image and a swollen limb can exacerbate this.

Research suggests that survivors with lymphoedema are more likely to suffer psychological and emotional difficulties, be more disabled, and experience a poorer quality of life than survivors without the condition.

Improved breast cancer survival rates suggest that approximately 2:3 women survive the disease beyond 20 years. This means that more people are living longer with this debilitating side effect for which there is currently no cure.

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) massage is used to treat conditions other than lymphoedema and Reflexology Lymph (RLD) massage may be used similarly.

Reflexology Lymph Drainage


Lymphatic Drainage massage (MLD/RLD)  may be useful with the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • ME
  • Sinus problems
  • Migraines
  • Muscular tension
  • Aches & Pains
  • PMS

RLD is an award winning reflexology technique which focuses on stimulating the lymphatic reflexes on the feet through a massaging technique.  The aim is to cause an effect on the lymphatic system in the body.  This unique sentence has been researched and developed by Sally Kay BSc (Hons) whilst working in Cancer Care.  The results appear to support the theory of reflexology.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.  According to Cancer Research UK (2011), the lifetime risk of developing it in the UK is 1:8 for women and 1:1014 for men.  Approximately 20% of these patients develop secondary lymphoedema of the arm following treatment for breast cancer.

RLD was developed through clinical practice whilst working in cancer care outpatients’ clinics, using reflexology for patients suffering from all types of cancers at all stages of the disease.  Many of the patients had been treated for breast cancer and consequently suffered second lymphoedema,  Complaints relating to lymphoedema often included a swollen arm, painful shoulder, uncomfortable underarm swelling weakness and problems with everyday living activities.

In the summertime, patients found the support sleeve uncomfortable on the heat as well as unsightly and it was often described as a label and a “constant reminder”.

Patients who had received this treatment experienced less discomfort and swelling and an increase in strength and arm mobility,  RLD protocol was developed and formalised, it is performed on the feet and is tailored to the affected arm.  It differs according to which side has been treated for breast cancer.

The following YouTube video will provide you with a visual explanation: