Medical Word a Day 7: Lymphatic System pt. 1

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by desertlass, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Okay, technically, that's not one word with a definition to follow. And obviously I don't do this every day.

    It just sounds better than: "every now and again..."

    I have been interested in the lymph system lately, and so the following "word a day's" will be excerpts from my Italian doctor-written Atlas of Anatomy. Some of the mistranslations are fun, but will be corrected by me for the purpose of clarity.

    I will be skipping over the circulation of blood, even though the two systems run alongside each other, and can hardly be separated, as we read about in Word a Day 6 on Hemoglobin.

    Excerpted from the Chapter on
    "The Circulatory and Lymphatic System"

    ...While the blood system is a closed circuit where blood circulation takes place thanks to continuous pressure produced by the contractions of the heart, the lymphatic system is an open circuit, which "passively" drains the interstitial fluid from the tissues.

    The lymph, pushed by the muscular movements of the body, runs through the lymphatic vessels, from the periphery toward the main ducts that pour into the large veins, at the base of the neck.

    The blood system is made up of the heart, and of different size and different funtional vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries), while the lymphatic system has lymphatic nodules or lymph nodes running along its entire course.

    They can be very small organs (some of them even microscopic, located at the periphery and called "interrupting lymph nodes"), or they can be very large ones, often grouped into lymph centers, where the lymph of big areas of the body meets.

    In fact, the circulatory and the lymphatic systems are not only similar because they both collect and distribute vital substances, but also because they protect the body.

    There are many cellular components (macrophagocytes, lymphocytes T and B, and platelets) and many substances dispersed inside the blood and the lymph (antibodies) which are necessary to "cicatrize?" wounds, to protect from protozoans, bacterial and viral infections."

    Okay, this is me, now:
    I think I now have a new term for my kids--"interrupting lymph nodes."

    So, this helps me to understand something that I once read about why yoga has more benefits than just the muscular stretching. The lymph system does not have a master organ to regulate the circulation of its fluid. It relies upon the various movements we make for this.

    So, now I'm left with this conundrum-- when I am physically active, I swell up the next day, especially around my neck, which now makes sense.

    It would seem that the lymph is failing to drain properly into the main veins located near the neck and collarbone. (I wish I could show you guys all the cool illustrations that go with this description).

    So note, the lymph system does not take junk out of the blood stream and direct it out through our skin, but the other way around.

    So, I don't understand how to correct this problem, if movement is both the cause and the solution.

    Any ideas?
  2. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    Don't overlook peyer's patches in the small intestines.
  3. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    That reply was like lightning quick.
    How do you read that fast?

    Actually, I'm sorry, but I don't know what you are referring to. What do they do?

    I'm not that far along in my book. :)

  4. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    I've only read a little about this. Peyer's patches are a series of lymph nodes in the small intestine.
  5. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Did you run across this in your MCS detoxifying research?

    The diagrams that go with the lymph system are so intricate, and I'm amazed at how many they have identified and named, but I didn't see that particular area.

    It does show how the lymph system runs all across the major organs, including the stomach and intestines.

    Are you saying that some of them drain into the intestines through these Peyes' patches?

    Rainbow 11

    Yes, the lymph system has become one of my worst operating systems. I am continually swelling up, looking kind of sallow, and puffy, now that I am into year seven with severe CFS/FM (I don't know long I had it in a more mild form before dx in 2001). I can almost tell how good or bad a day is going to be based on how puffy my hands feel upon waking.

    I had NO idea how it is all over our bodies right along with our blood circulatory system.

    I think hardly anyone talks about it anywhere, not just on this board.

    I have only had a vague idea of it. If any of you ever get the chance to find illustrations or diagrams of it, you will be amazed.

    So, I am frustrated because I cannot find the logical reason for why lymph would unable to drain into the veins. Is the problem in the lymphatic system itself, or is there a backup at the venous entrances? Or is this a blood pressure issue?

    My osteopath has instructed me to gently rub (brush) the skin down and gave me the name of a lymph drainage massage therapist (sorry all, I know how gross that sounds, but hey I didn't create all of this ooshy-gooshy stuff :)

    Has anyone here had that massage done, and what do they do, how did you feel afterward?

    So far, doing yoga is great for a while, but I always end swollen the next day, as if I had sucked down a jar of pickles in one night.

    I want to do the things that are fashionable for health and self-care as much as the next person, but everything seems to backfire on me.

    Sorry, I'm in a Charlie Brown mood today.

    Thanks for helping to get the conversation going, you guys.

    My Medical Words don't generate much response because there's no controversy.

    I should rename my threads "If you think you're so smart, then try to figure out the Lymph system as well as I have, b$%^&!" or something.

    Hmmm. Maybe not.

    Looking forward to more responses from everyone, otherwise I'll just keep rambling to myself.

  6. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    These peyer's patches are at least as important as the rest of our immune system. I haven't researched them enough to figure them out yet. But if we keep bumping this, maybe someone who knows about them will chime in.
  7. Scapper

    Scapper New Member

    I really enjoy your medical posts, I just don't always reply.

    I had to laugh at your "re-naming your post" idea -- funny -- controversy does seem to get people to respond -- PLEASE DON'T -- I LIKE YOUR THREAD :)

    Anyway, I wanted to make a suggestion. Have you ever tried the mini-trampoline (rebounder). My holistic practitioner suggests this highly (and holisitc practitioners ALWAYS speak of the lymph system, btw).

    If you can't jump several minutes a day, you could also get one of those pilates balls and sit on it and bounce (perhaps not as effective, but easier).

    This is known to help the entire lymph system.

    I believe there are posts here on it (search for "rebounder" or "mini-trampoline"). A while back people were discussing the benefits.....I think one of the CFS doctors were recommeding it (can't remember).

    This also helps to awaken your endocrine system.....and others have discussed on here the balancing of the autonomic nervous system (so lots of benefits on this one)....."if" you can do it.

    I'm curious if this would help with your lymph.

    Massage is definitely helpful......I've always gone for deep tissue since I have issues with that. I have CFS, so even massages wipe me out -- but I'm thinking "in a good way" --- it's beneficial to get things moving (lymphatically) -- especially for people who can't be physically active.

    Your Osteopaths suggestion sounds great.

    There's always homeopathic products for lymph if you can't rebound.

    Dry brushing is another tool to get things moving. I use a brush in the shower (hard to describe....but I'll give it a shot) -- I raise my arm and brush down the entire length of back-side of raised arm, under arm-pit and down side of body.....several times if you can. Sounds like your osteopath could show you this too.

    Hope this helped in some way......keep your medical posts coming!

    [This Message was Edited on 03/20/2008]
  8. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Jam-- thanks for the tip-- I will definitely be looking into that.

    Scapper-- I'm glad you enjoy these. I will keep them coming! Thanks for your support and advice on the brushing. I think Cheney was the one who is big on the rebounding. I actually did get a big exercise ball for that purpose, but when I got it home, the smell was so toxic it stunk up the whole house-- I need to find another, try again, and get bouncing. Great reminder.

    KJM-- thanks for your info off the web on Peyer's patches as introduced by Woofmom. The part that stood out to me was the last sentence about the thoracic duct. That one seems to be a big one, from what I can tell from the diagram.

    The reason why it jumped out is because I have so many structrual issues going on with the thoracic area of my back. So many things that have gone wrong with me seem to stem from that area of weakness.

    I actually ended up in the ER a few weeks ago because of my wonky thorax region.

    After this short series on the lymph system, I'll move on to how important connective tissue can be to our illnesses.

    Thanks again, everyone,

    [This Message was Edited on 03/21/2008]
  9. Febricula

    Febricula New Member

    Lymph is something I do worry about, because I'm so sedentary. I used to drybrush, but I found it tiring. (LOL!) I would love to get a rebounder but I live in a tiny apt with no room!

    One little thing I do is calf raises every day. I spent 95% of the time in bed, and I have a problem with swollen ankles. I'm not sure if it helps, but at least it's a tiny bit of exercise.

    I would be curious if anyone knows specific yoga exercises for lymph. Preferably ones that can be done flat on the back in bed! ;)

  10. LenoreR

    LenoreR New Member

    Hi Lisette (and all!)

    Whoever recommended the mini trampoline thingie is right on track with my massage specialist.

    Let me tell you about the therapy:
    It uses a VERY light touch. The therapist starts with this special light box that he startes at the lymph node and moves outward (basically under each arm and both sides of groin). He worked in quandrants. After the light box to a quandrant, he VERY GENTLY sort of pushes the skin from the lymph node to the center (ie. on top to the sternum). The first time I went, he said to watch for nausea and irratability; if these were present then my lymph system needed to be prodded along. That is exactly what happened. I have had three treatments now, once a week.

    The therapist explained that unlike the heart which "pumps" blood, the lymphatic fluid has nothing to "pump it" other than our own body movements (hence the mini trampoline thingie). I have definitely felt some overall body energy improvement, showing that for me, this is a good choice of an alternative therapy. I talked it over with my rheumotologist and another (not trained in this) therapist, and both had heard of it and believed it could be a helpful alternative treatment.

    A word of caution: this is a highly specialized therapy that should not be performed by a massage therapist who merely goes out and buys the light device. There is special training sessions for it, and continuing training, from what I read when I researched this therapy. I also read that people with swelling would highly benefit from this kind of therapy.

    I hope this information was helpful.

    Enjoy the day,
  11. tansy

    tansy New Member

    i used skin brushing and a form of bouncing and really missed it post surgery when ironically i needed it even more. one young relative who's been ill for 18 months now still struggles with her lymphatic system despite being more physically active than most here.

    There are various forms of massage that can help but some of us need to choose the therapist with care; ie to go about this tx slowly.

    Raymond Perrin in the UK has a special technique to get lymphatic drainage going again.

    tc, tansy
  12. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Febricula-- I don't know why, but as soon as I saw your username, I've always wished I could meet you. I hope you are not having any little fevers, now. :/

    I wish I understood why lying in bed seems to help my swelling, and moving around causes it. It is exactly the opposite of what we are told. I see people in wheel chairs with tiny limbs, and I wonder about them. What caused me to go from being rail thin from illness to become the occasional incredible ballooning woman. Lovely image of me, I know. I'm tall, so that helps a little.

    But, perhaps we could just bounce up and down on the edge of the mattress a little to get us started, in the meantime, if we don't have our special equipment.

    I will look through all of my (dusty) yoga tapes to see if there are any could be all done lying down. I heard from an eldercare specialist that an amazing amount of good can be done just from circling the ankles one way then the other. Weird, huh?
  13. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    I don't believe we've met--

    Thank you so much for that wealth of info about the lymph massage.

    I have a person recommened to me by my osteopath, so I will have to get serious about getting in to see them.

    It sounds like something I could tolerate okay. I do get occasional regular massages, but I end up feeling like pizza dough that has been pressed too thinly across the pan. Maybe it's my lymphatic system saying "Pleeezze stop squishing meeee!"

    I have a handheld infared light massage thingie from homedics. I've often wondered if it was doing me any good. It probabaly helps about as well as the brushing, but it sounds like the true massage is nothing like this.

    Thanks for the reply!
  14. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    I am so glad you swooped onto my thread! Thanks!

    One of the first articles I read on ImmuneSupport was about Dr. Perrin. There wasn't much detail.

    My latest osteopath mentioned him to me, that he had a new book out. Have you read it? If so, I'd love to know what you think. I guess I'll get it for myself, because so far, bodywork seems to be the thing that helps me the most.

    Oh, but it's such a pain to drag oneself to all these appointments and pay out of pocket. I need to get a better attitude and have all those sorts of things done regularly on a rotating schedule, and just deal.

    All of this might help get me and my lymph moving in the right direction.

    Thanks again.
  15. LenoreR

    LenoreR New Member

    No, I don't believe we have *met*, but that never stopped me beofre from trying to help a fellow sufferer. I should have introduced myself first--such poor manners on my behalf! It is my very pleasure to meet you. I have read some of your posts before and have always enjoyed them and/or found them informative.

    Your homeopedic device, unless it's bigger than a breadbox, is probably not the same (ya nevah know, though). I started by googling "lymphatic drainage massage", then printed what I found useful (there was a cool picture of the device), then took it to the therapist before he even touched me.

    Best wishes from Southern Cal to Arizona,
  16. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Hi Lisette

    There an osteopathic practice in the city where I live; two osteopaths hold clinics there; one uses the Perrin Technique and the other uses a range of Tx and bases many of his recommendations and tests on Dr Sarah Myhill's work. They are the only treatment facility here who seem to have any real understanding of ME, CFS etc. They don't claim cures but I know patients personally who've been helped considerably by them.

    The NHS here only provides a clinic run by a psychologist and you can guess the Tx she provides. GPs think it's great having been persuaded by the govt and NICE this is the answer for us, so this osteopathy clinic provides local patients with something more helpful but only if they can self fund it.

    There's been very mixed patient feedback nationwide, so nothing new there then. It generally falls into the usual three types of feedback: those not helped at all, those who found it helped especially when used as an adjunct to other tx, and those for whom the Perrin Technique has turned their illness around and they've got their lives back.

    Feedback on Dr Perrin's book so far has been good and this is reflected in the reviews at amazon (UK). Raymond Perrin provides practioners, including osteopaths and PTs, with sufficient information on a DVD to use this Tx on their patients. Details are on his website.

    There's one internet site that has a good description of Raymond Perrin's work; it is less hard going than his published paper.

    tc, Tansy
    [This Message was Edited on 03/22/2008]
  17. pasara

    pasara New Member

    Reading your post and all the replies, especially about lymphatic drainage, the first thing that came to mind for me was Spring Forest Qigong. This might be something you'd like to check out.

    If you google "introduction to spring forest qigong" you will see at the top of the page a listing titles "Introduction to Spring Forest Qi Gong" with a web address of minnesota wellness directory ( If you click on that there are very clear and in depth step by step instructions of the foundations of qi gong, with animated illustrations. there is the introduction on the first page, then also "self-massage" pages that are further exercises. They are easy to adapt for those with CFS (which includes me.)

    I encourage you to explore that website.
  18. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Jam-- thanks for the inquiry. That is a good way to signal someone, by bumping up a previous post that will go their inbox. I have been off the board for some time and wouldn't have seen a note, otherwise.

    Well, I am doing a little better than I have been. I am one of the unfortunate people who discovered that they have toxic mold in their house, and now I have to re-do my kitchen. Insurance does not cover any of this, like they would if it had been a fire or a different kind of water damage.

    I'll have to write a general update for the board at large.

    Thanks again for your kind thoughts on how I was doing. I actually am feeling somewhat better. I had the Atlas Profilax done for my neck pain back in the Spring, and I can say that it really does seem to have fixed that problem. It's not perfect by any means, but it was worth it. I can't say if it has done anything for the rest of my spine-- too early to say. Maybe it would be something to file away in the back of your mind someday, if it turns out that my lower back/legs get any benefit. I'll let you know.

    I was glad to see that the DonTigny exercises were helping you. The only thing I wonder is if PTs don't put too much emphasis on everything being structural. I now believe that part of my problem was an untreated infection in the joints, probably caused by leaky gut/yeast, and some other pathogens. I don't think it was all misalignment, although that was a huge part. I just think that injury and inflammation and infection can all be present and it's hard to know if only one, two, or all three are at work.

    I hope you continue to feel better, and that prolo is helping you.

    Pasara-- thank you so much for the info on Qi Gong. I've always been interested in that-- and I will definitely be looking at the site you passed on to me.

    Much appreciation.

    Now that I am here, I am inspired to do "Lymphatic System Part 2". :)

    Another time,