Manual Therapy for Breast Health
[previously published in Natural Awakenings of Hartford, May Issue, 2015, written by Ayelet Connell-Giammatteo, PhD, PT, IMT,C]
National Women’s Health Week begins on May 10th every year. In honor of this week, there is a significant focus placed on women and various health practices that can aid in optimal health. Breast health is an important component of a woman’s health. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.1 The key to reducing this statistic is prevention.
There are many alternative approaches to promote breast health. One such approach is Manual Therapy. Manual Therapy is a gentle form of body work that can support drainage of the lymphatic system.2 Our lymph is a vital part of our immune system and facilitates our cardiovascular system by helping to drain toxins from the body. Our breasts contain lymph ducts that drain toxins from the breast tissue. When the lymph fluid is stagnant, it can create inflammation of the breast which can lead to illness. By supporting drainage of this lymph fluid from the breast, we can create healthier and less toxic breast tissue.
Lymph vessels are lined with involuntary muscle that helps to pump lymph from an area. These small muscles can be in spasm which can lead to a stagnant or sluggish lymph system. Manual Therapy for breast lymph drainage is a relaxing treatment that helps to stimulate the smooth muscle around these lymph vessels, which helps to promote normal flow of the lymph out of the breast tissue. This can help to improve the health of the breast tissue and prevent inflammation in the region that can lead to illness.
Women that have poor lymph flow in the breast may feel tightness or soreness in their breast tissue. They may also experience symptoms in their shoulders and upper back or neck. Equally, for some women, they may not experience any symptoms specific to that body area.
Manual Therapy can help to create more movement and less pain in an area by reducing tension in the tissues. This gentle approach has been found to reduce chronic joint pain as well as painful tissue in a body region. Regular treatment by a Manual Therapist has been shown to promote greater health and more movement in the body. Manual Therapy may be practiced by holistic Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Massage Therapists, and Body Workers.
1. U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2011 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2014.
2. Williams, A.f., A. Vadgama, P.j. Franks, and P.s. Mortimer. “A Randomized Controlled Crossover Study of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy in Women with Breast Cancer-related Lymphoedema.” European Journal of Cancer Care 11.4 (2002): 254-61. Web.