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Tahoe Massage Home > How to Massage Video Workbook > Table of Contents > What Is Edema

 

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What is edema?

Blood feeds our cells by dishing out nutrient-rich fluid to them. Cells use this fresh fluid in metabolism, then discard the used fluid as waste. The blood then re-absorbs the used stuff and carries it back to the heart for filtering. During this exchange, blood is under such tremendous pressure that some of the fluid leaks out and lingers between the cells. This "leaked out" fluid is what the lymph system picks up and transports back to the blood system. Collecting this "garbage", lymph pathways start out as little creeks, merging with other lymph creeks to become rivers, flowing toward the heart, and eventually emptying back into the blood system at a place near the collar bone. The amazing part is that there is no pump to move the stuff along. So how does it defy gravity and flow uphill from our feet toward our head? Fortunately we don't have to walk around on our hands to accomplish this. Internal movement squeezes the lymph along like toothpaste in a tube, and there are backflow valves strategically placed in the system to prevent it from sliding back down. Muscles contracting, arteries pulsing, pressure change during breathing, etc. all have a squeezing effect on the lymph vessels. If we don't move around much, fluid can accumulate between the cells - causing a "flood", which we call edema. Floods also occur if there's a blockage somewhere along the line, for instance a swollen area, or the pressure created during pregnancy.

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© 1988 Nancy Blachly All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form
 
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