Is Lymphatic Massage Painful?

By Breathe Team | Jun 17, 2020

The lymphatic massage is also popularly referred to as lymphatic drainage or the lymphatic drainage massage. Surprisingly, not so much is known about this therapy, and that may be because there is limited research surrounding its subject. However, amidst the little known of this massage, is the most repetitive question as to whether lymphatic massage is painful. “Is lymphatic massage painful?” Many people ask the massage therapist before lying down on the bed for the procedure. So, here is what to know.

The lymphatic drainage massage involves the application of pressure to key areas, to unblock the flow of a build-up lymph system. In the human circulatory system, also known as the transportation system, there are movements of fluids across body parts. One of such fluids transported includes the lymph, flowing through the lymph vessels.

Accumulated pressures, which might be gradual or sudden, can happen to the body through hit, stress, or strain, thereby, clogging the lymphatic system. That is, the lymph is hindered from free movement to deliver to the lymph nodes. At such points, the fluid builds up and forms a swelling at the affected body part. Such swollen areas can have characteristic properties of pain and heaviness, both of which are not convenient.

What causes fluid blockage?

  • Surgery
  • Medical conditions or complications
  • Lymphedema (swelling due to ruptured lymphatic system). It can be due to surgery or cancer.

Whatever the condition is, make sure that you are trusting your body into the hands of a lymphatic massage therapist and specialist.

When not to get a lymphatic massage?

Please, stay away from the lymphatic massage if you have the following conditions. Or, at worst, the first talk to your physical therapist or doctor.

  • Current infections
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver problems
  • Blood clotting (or history of blood clotting)
  • Congestive heart failure.

How Lymphatic Massage Works on Pains

There are the clearing and reabsorption stages of a lymphatic massage session. Clearing, as the name suggests, creates a vacuum with gentle pressure. The vacuum allows for more fluid to move through the body, therefore, creating a flushing effect in the body.

 Breathe app

The clearing motions help to clear the path of the fluid system. Areas to clear include the supraclavicular area, the axillary area, and the inner elbow area. The process is carried out in that order. With gentle pressure, the therapist stretches the skin from one side up and outwards. When clearing the path for the fluid, the process should be as painless as possible. However, if you have been feeling previous pains in the area before, it is possible that you feel some slight pain again, as your therapist works on your body. The pain should not be much nor prolonged. It shouldn’t be much because your therapist would be gentle while working on your body. It shouldn’t be prolonged because once the path is cleared and the fluid can course through the body, the pain would begin to subside.


This is the second part following the clearing of the lymphatic massage. It begins at the most affected part of the body, and the gentle motions and stroke would shift the skin’s surface. The massage begins from the fingertip to the full hand, from hand to elbow, and elbow to the shoulder.

So, no, except you have regular pains in the body, you shouldn’t feel pains from a lymphatic drainage massage.

Get the Breathe App:

To book an in-home massage therapist, download the Breathe app for Android or Apple and you can choose a verified and certified lymphatic massage therapist.