Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Breast Massage Before Mammogram

I have had two mammograms in my life so far.  The first one was not uncomfortable as suggested.  It hurt! There is nothing like watching your breast being squished between two plates as the pounds per square inch number goes up and up.  That was many years ago.

Recently, I had another mammogram. I am at higher risk for breast cancer due to family history. This time not only did it not hurt but it wasn't even uncomfortable! 

So what was the difference? Breast Massage. I am a registered massage therapist.  We all learn how to do breast massage in school after which most of us don't really think about breast massage.  At least I didn't. 

Breast massage is a specific treatment that reduces the excess lymphatic fluid in the breasts.  If you have ever popped a blister you have seen lymphatic fluid.  Lymphatic fluid is responsible for making breasts feel swollen and heavy after wearing a sports bra or before menses etc. 

The anatomy of the breast is such that when the breasts are compressed against the chest wall, lymphatic drainage is compromised. The lymphatic fluid drains to the armpit and along the breast bone. 

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By using gentle lifting and rocking techniques, the fluid can be encouraged to drain.  This significantly reduces the pain of getting a mammogram in my experience.  A breast that is soft and pliable "squishes" much easier between the plates of the machine. 

Sandra Rief, RMT

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