Yesterday afternoon my girlfriend and I got massages. I had never had one before, so the experience was a new one for me.

I told my massage therapist that I had lymphedema, a chronic swelling in my leg. She nodded knowingly, saying that she would give me a deep tissue massage to help get the fluid moving. Once we got into the room, however, she began to ask me a series of strange questions.

“Do you have any allergies?” she asked.

“No,” I replied, a little confused.

“How do you know?” she pressed. “Have you been tested?”

“Uhmm.. yes,” I lied. Why was she asking me about allergies? I was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable, and I couldn’t see why this was relevant at all to the massage.

“Which test?”

“Uhm.. well I haven’t had an allergy panel before, if that’s what you mean. But I’ve also never had any allergic reactions, so.. I’m pretty sure I’m not allergic to anything.”

She smiled tersely. “You should have a blood test done, because they can detect more than a regular allergy panel. You might find that your swelling is related to that.”


I’m sorry, lady, but if I tell you I have a medical condition, I’m fairly certain that I know what’s up. This is no “allergic reaction” – it’s a diagnosed medical condition shared by millions of people! There’s no need to question what I already know about my body.

Once her strange interrogation was over, I undressed and got onto the massage table. The massage itself was lovely, and I drifted off to sleep several times during the hour and a half appointment.

When she got to my legs, she focused mostly on my thighs. When she did do my lower legs, she began pushing downward rather than up. Her technique was different from MLD, and I was a little concerned if this was hurting rather than helping my leg. At one point, she even put a hot compress across my legs – something that you should never do if you have lymphedema, as heat can make the swelling worse. I was beginning to think that she was not as familiar with lymphedema as she had made it seem before the appointment.

My post-massage verdict? I would definitely do it again, although I would be more vocal about my special needs concerning the lymphedema. That, or I just wouldn’t get it below my waist at all.

How about you? What has been your experiences with lymphedema and massages?