Under Your Skin Cartoon

Lymphedema, Fibrosis, and Ketchup

I’d like to thank Jodi Winicour, PT, CMT, CLT-LANA – an instructor at Klose Training & Consulting, LLC – for this great analogy about fibrosis and lymphatic flow.

If you have moderate to severe lymphedema, and your tissue has become dense and hardened, that fibrosis is going to affect how easily the lymph can flow through that area.

Think of that area of dense tissue like a frozen bottle of ketchup.

If you’re seeing a lymphedema therapist for Manual Lymphatic Drainage, or if you’re doing self-MLD, the intent and goal is to get that accumulated lymphatic fluid out of the tissues and back into the cardiovascular system, right? But how easy is it to get ketchup out of a frozen ketchup bottle?

Not easy at all, is it?

But what if you took off the cap, popped that bottle into the microwave for a bit, and got it all warmed up?

Think of that “warming up” as bandaging with foam inserts and then doing your prescribed exercises for that region. Or you can also think of it as your lymphedema therapist doing some specific tissue massage to help soften those fibrotic areas. Once you’ve gotten that frozen ketchup bottle all toasty and that ketchup inside a little gooier…

…it’s going to move on outta there much more easily. 

(Aaaand now you’re possibly craving burgers and fries.)