What is RLD?
RLD or Reflexology Lymph Drainage is an award winning reflexology technique which focuses on stimulating the lymphatic reflexes on the feet. The aim is to cause an effect on the lymphatic system in the body. It is a unique sequence that has been researched and developed by Sally Kay BSc(Hons), whilst working in Cancer Care.
Sally originally developed the technique in order to help survivors of breast cancer, which according to Cancer Research UK (2011), is the most common cancer in the UK, with a lifetime risk of developing it of 1:8 for women in the UK. Approximately 20% of these patients develop secondary lymphoedema of the arm following treatment for breast cancer and subsequent surgery or radiotherapy to the axillary lymph nodes. Sally's research suggests that survivors of breast cancer who develop lymphoedema are more likely to suffer physiological, psychological and emotional difficulties, be more disabled and experience a poorer quality of life than survivors without it. And since breast cancer survival rates have improved dramatically with approximately 2 out of 3 women surviving 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.
Results from recent research have shown that RLD may be helpful in the management of secondary lymphoedema following treatment for breast cancer. Sally's innovative approach has attracted national and international awards and widespread recognition, and plans are in place for further research.
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What is lymphoedema?
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 doesn't work properly. The lymphatic system is a network of channels and glands throughout the body that help fight infection and remove excess fluid.
The main symptom of lymphoedema is swelling in all or part of a limb or another part of the body. It can be difficult to fit into clothes, and jewellery and watches can feel tight. At first, the swelling may come and go. It may get worse during the day and go down overnight. Without treatment, it will usually become more severe and persistent.
Lymphoedema can also cause an aching, heavy feeling in the affected part of the body and the skin may feel hard and tight. Movement can therefore often be restricted and the skin may be more prone to infections.
What causes lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is caused by a problem with the lymphatic system. The main functions of the lymphatic system are helping fight infection and draining excess fluid from tissues.
There are two main types of lymphoedema:
Primary lymphoedema – caused by faulty genes that affect the development of the lymphatic system. It can develop at any age, but usually starts during infancy, adolescence, or early adulthood
Secondary lymphoedema – caused by damage to the lymphatic system or problems with the movement and drainage of fluid in the lymphatic system. It can be the result of an infection, injury, cancer treatment, inflammation of the limb, or a lack of limb movement.
Other benefits of RLD
Clinical experience and further evidence from a growing body of case studies suggests that RLD can also be useful with many other conditions including: