Investigation of the Less Known Effects of Manual Lymphatic Drainage: A Narrative Review

Lymphat Res Biol. 2022 Feb;20(1):7-10. doi: 10.1089/lrb.2019.0091. Epub 2021 Mar 22.


Background: Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), one of the components of complex decongestive physiotherapy, which is accepted as the gold standard in the treatment of lymphedema, is used for therapeutic purposes in many diseases. The most well-known feature of MLD is that it helps to reduce edema. In addition to reducing edema, MLD has many effects, such as increasing venous flow, reducing fatigue, and raising the pain threshold. To the best of our knowledge, there is no study examining the effects of MLD other than its effects on edema in detail. The aim of this study is to compile effects of MLD and to provide a better understanding of the effects of MLD. Methods and Results: A literature search was conducted in Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library in July 2019, to identify different effects of MLD. The articles were chosen by, first, reading the abstract and subsequently data were analyzed by reading the entire text through full-text resources. To undertake the study, we have collected information published about different effects of MLD over the last 30 years (1989-2019). According to our results, 20 studies met inclusion criteria. Conclusions: This study suggests that MLD can be used in symptomatic treatment of various diseases (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease) considering the effects of MLD on the systems.

Keywords: fatigue; literature review; pain threshold; pain tolerance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Edema
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema* / diagnosis
  • Lymphedema* / etiology
  • Lymphedema* / therapy
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage* / methods
  • Pain Threshold