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Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage in Ottawa

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?

Manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle, non-invasive massage technique that uses specific pressure and direction of strokes to activate the lymphatic system and increase the rate at which fluid is draining from tissues.

What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system runs parallel to the circulatory system. Lymphatic vessels remove fluid from the skin, muscles, joints, and organs. This fluid transports to lymph nodes throughout the body which act as biological filters, filtering out everything harmful to the body and rendering it harmless — viruses, bacteria, cell debris, and so on. The filtered fluid then continues through the lymphatic vessels and returns to the circulatory system via vessels near the heart.

What causes excess fluid in the tissues?

Excess fluid in the tissue occurs for a number of reasons. Damage to the lymphatic system may occur during surgery, such as for breast cancer. Fluid can also build up around injuries and when inflammation is present (e.g. broken bones, strains, sprains). Excess fluid is associated with many vascular conditions, including hypertension. Some hormonal changes can cause a build-up of fluid, as well as some medications. Sinus congestion associated with allergies, pregnancy, etc. is another form of excess fluid in the body. 

What are the POSITIVE EFFECTS of Manual lymphatic drainage?

Decongestive Effect

MLD can successfully treat most swelling. When properly applied, manual lymphatic drainage massage can induce the pumping effect in the lymphatic system and increase the body’s rate of drainers by up to 20 times its normal rate. This increase in drainage rapidly decongests the tissue to restore normal tissue conditions.

Sympatholytic Effect

The term sympatholytic refers to a reduction of nerve impulses to the sympathetic (fight or flight) system. Manual lymph drainage has a soothing and calming effect on the entire body, which can help reduce tension, anxiety, and even pain.

Analgesic Effect 

MLD results in pain mediators draining into the lymphatic system more rapidly, so that they are no longer active in the tissue. As well, the sympatholytic effect from manual lymph drainage massage can help inhibit mild pain responses. Any prolonged pain, such as pain generated by migraine, acute injuries, fibromyalgia, etc., can be improved by manual lymphatic drainage. 

What can Manual Lymph Drainage treat?

  1. Manual lymphatic drainage can help alleviate primary or secondary lymphedema, such as those with mastectomy surgery and with the removal of axillary lymph nodes, or after radiation injury of the lymph nodes. Although MLD rarely achieves complete removal of such edemas it greatly improves the patient’s general condition by reducing the edema size. 
  2. Another major group of indications for MLD is traumatic injuries: hematomas, muscle fiber tears, dislocations of joints, fractures, etc. MLD can begin almost immediately following an injury to help reduce pain and swelling and drain hematomas. Healing time for injuries and surgeries can be reduced with regular MLD treatments.
  3. In close relation to treatment for traumatic injuries is scar therapy. MLD improves wound healing and optimizes the scarring process. Restoration is possible in damaged lymph drainage routes in existing scars. 
  4.  MLD can be used as part of a treatment plan for many kinds of rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Various soft-tissue rheumatic disorders (such as tendinitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome) respond well to MLD but need comparatively long individual courses of treatment.  
  5. Studies have shown MLD can also be successfully included in the treatment of conditions associated with the brain such as cerebral concussion, headache, migraine, etc.

Can Manual Lymphatic Drainage help with bloating?

Bloating is an impairment of the digestive system, not the lymphatic system. It occurs when air is trapped in the intestinal tract. Because MLD’s purpose is to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls digestion, it may help promote digestion and help alleviate bloating indirectly, but it will not affect the underlying cause of bloating.

Manual lymphatic drainage is safe for most patients but, as with all massage treatments, it is important to let your Registered Massage Therapist know about all your medical conditions and medications since there are certain conditions for which MLD may be contraindicated or for which modifications to the MLD treatment may need to be made.

To learn more about Manual Lymphatic Drainage or to schedule your MLD massage in Ottawa, please call our CURAVITA Glebe Clinic at 613-237-9000, or our CURAVITA Byward Clinic at 613.860.8600 to speak with a Clinic Health Assistant, or book online at

Byward Market

333 Cumberland Street
Ottawa K1N 7J3
Phone: 613.860.8600


108A Third Avenue
Ottawa K1S 2J8
Phone: 613.237.9000


For further reading about Manual Lymphatic Drainage we highly recommend the following: Wittlinger Lymphedema Clinic


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on Goggle Reviews

We stumbled across Curavita while looking for massage and chiropractor places in Lowertown area. We’ve been very happy with Dr H’s chiropractic services. She diagnosed my knee pain and gave me a fantastic care plan. She’s also very knowledgeable about the city and gives great tidbits and recommendations.

Curavita has a handy online portal to book subsequent appointments. They are quick to respond over email or phone in case any changes to upcoming appointments are required. They also support sending receipts via email which makes the reimbursement process a breeze. I would definitely recommend Curavita!



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on Google Reviews

The chiropractic and massage therapy I have received at the CURAVITA has helped me immensely with different health issues as they have arisen. The staff is warm and attentive, the atmosphere is inviting and healing, and the care is effective and comprehensive. The clinic goes above and beyond to explain the types of care they provide through educative media and by therapists themselves. You are in good hands when you are at the CURAVITA Byward.



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on GOOGLE

“I’ve gone to the massage therapist twice for a massage and I was incredibly impressed both times. I also really appreciated that she was quiet and let me relax in silence. I’ve had way too many massages at other clinics where the therapist treats it like a gab fest and when I leave I’m more stressed and tense than I was when I walked in! I’d recommend them to anybody and I plan on booking another appointment with her very soon.”



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on GOOGLE

I’ve been a casual massage therapy client at CURAVITA for a few years but recently visited the Glebe clinic for help with a chronic plantar fasciitis problem. I received treatment from the physiotherapist and the chiropractor, and have seen so much improvement and pain relief through these treatments. I am now able to walk pain-free, am beginning to scale up my workouts at the gym so that I can get back to the volume of exercise I am used to and, in general, because of the chiropractic care have noticed huge improvements in how my body feels overall.



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on GOOGLE

I’ve been getting massages with the massage therapist for a few weeks and WOW. She really listens to me, my body, and adjusts her approach and offers advice. She answers all my questions and keeps a calm, relaxing atmosphere. It’s been a tough and stressful time for me and I truly appreciate her and her work. Thank you!



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on GOOGLE

I go to physio and massage here. I have a condition affecting my joints and ligaments, and the physiotherapist went above and beyond to learn about the condition, work within my limitations, and came up with a care and exercise plan to meet my needs. If you have EDS, I recommend you come see them.



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on GOOGLE

The chiropractor is fantastic!! I felt extremely comfortable with her and trust her with my care. everyone there is welcoming and know how to help. Curavita is wonderful all around. The massage therapist also helped immensely with a great massage. i look forward to continuing my healing journey with Curavita.



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on GOOGLE

I’ve been going to Curavita for over a year but more regularly (nearly every week) for the past few months. I use the massage therapist each time and he is not only an incredible massage therapist but an incredible person! I have diagnosed PTSD from gender-based violence and other violent physical traumas, emotional abuse, and so on. Part of my healing plan is using massages to not only relieve stress but having a male therapist has helped me tremendously with associating not only touch, but male touch, with positivity and care.

[…] I just want to extend a huge thank you to the entire team for creating an atmosphere like this that really focuses on providing a healthcare service in a non judgemental, professional and still empathetic/warm/inviting and caring way. I cannot recommend their services enough. And I extend my full gratitude to everyone that works there for being a part of creating that space but especially to the massage therapist and the clinic health assistant.


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