Functions and Massage Considerations of the Lymphatic System

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The lymphatic system protects against disease. It has three major functions. The first function is to remove excess interstitial fluid. The second function is to carry dietary lipids and lipid-soluble vitamins from the digestive tract to the blood. The third function is to transport immune infections out of the body. There are two types of immunity: natural immunity and acquired immunity. Natural immunity is about nonspecific responses to invading pathogens. Examples of this include the skin, fever, digestive enzymes and inflammation. It is the first line of protection. If the immune infection gets past the natural immunity, the acquired immunity comes into action. The two types of acquired immunity are humoral immunity which involves the B cells, and cellular immunity which involves the T cells. The T cells kill the pathogen, the B cell leave antibodies to inactivate the pathogens. Massage considerations differ depending on which condition of the lymphatic system a patient has. If the patient has lymphedema or edema, you should avoid vigorous massage and aggressive techniques and elevate swollen areas above the heart. Clearing strokes should be applied centripetally. Massage for a patient with lymphangitis is postponed until medical clearance is given. Massage considerations for a patient with lymphadenopathy or lymphadenitis is to postpone if lymph nodes are enlarged or enlarged lymph nodes are locally contraindication.

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