How to Drain Lymph Nodes

The lymphatic system is responsible for eliminating your body's waste. It handles the process with the help of the natural movements of muscle tissue, but sometimes, fluids can build up in your lymph nodes due to surgery or other damage. This leads to a condition called lymphedema that can cause several health problems such as infections and lymphangiosarcoma. To ensure that your lymphatic system keeps functioning properly, you can learn some ways to drain your lymph nodes. 

How to Drain Lymph Nodes

1. Lymphatic Self-Massage

By learning the techniques of lymphatic self-massage, you can get rid of fluid buildup in your lymph nodes. You have to move through two stages when using this technique: clearing and re-absorption.


It helps create a vacuum to encourage more fluid to move to this area, which in turn produces a flushing effect. For good effects, you need to clear the axillary area, the supraclavicular area, and the inner-elbow area. Here is how to clear these areas properly:

  • The Axillary Area: Lift your hand above your head and use your other hand to scoop the underarm area. You should be scooping gently from top to bottom.
  • The Supraclavicular Area: Lie on the floor with your arms crossed on your chest and hands just below your collarbones. Now, lift your elbows slowly to exert pressure on this area.
  • The Inner-Elbow Area: With your arms at your side, use the fingers of your other hand to pull the skin inside your elbow. Pull it gently an inch at a time.


The other part of your lymphatic massage is re-absorption:

  • Choose the part of the body that is affected but is the farthest from the core of your body. It means you should start with the tips of your fingers when you have fluid buildup in your arm, hand, or shoulder.
  • Be sure to use a gentle, sweeping motion. Do not put too much pressure. You just need to move the surface of your skin. Continue massaging your fingertips first and then move to your hand. Next, massage your elbow and finally move to your shoulder.

It is a good idea to spend at least 20 minutes doing lymphatic self-massage to drain lymph nodes.

Note: Keep in mind that some veins in the legs and the nodes in the neck are very near the surface of your skin, so be sure to massage gently. 

2. Manual Lymph Drainage Massage

Learning how to drain lymph nodes is not limited to self-massage; you can also go to nurses, physicians, OCT, PTs, and massage therapists to receive manual lymphatic drainage massage. The therapist will stroke, tap, push or rub your skin gently in directions that follow the lymphatic system’s structure. In this way, the lymph fluid can be drained through proper channels. This gentle rhythmical technique helps remove the buildup of fluid in lymph nodes in a much easier way. Be sure to opt for a certified physician.

3. Lymph System Acupuncture

Originated in China, acupuncture is a highly effective health care system based primarily on patterns of energy flow through your body. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that you will develop illnesses when there is any disruption in this flow of energy. The same holds true for clogged lymphatic system. An acupuncturist will use certain points in your body to help de-clog your lymph nodes. Ensure that you only opt for a certified practitioner to receive lymphatic system acupuncture.

4. Dry Brushing

You may opt for dry brushing to help detoxify your entire lymph system. You can make it more effective by doing dry brushing after taking a warm bath or while in a warm shower. You can also try cool/warm transitional hydrotherapy while in the shower. Be sure to use only a natural, bristle body brush whenever trying dry skin brushing. You should go for long gentle strokes and do not try to be too hard. It is also important to brush in the same direction as the practitioner does manual lymphatic drainage massage.

Check out this video to learn how to drain lymph nodes with the help of dry brushing:

When to See a Doctor

You should see your doctor if you have inflamed lymph nodes along with another condition. Here are some factors to help you determine when to seek medical attention:

  • Your lymph nodes are swollen for over a couple of weeks and you have other symptoms, such as night sweats, weight loss, fever, or fatigue.
  • You have hard lymph nodes that do not move or are fixed to the skin.
  • You have nodes that are growing rapidly.
  • You have swelling in the lower part of your neck or close to your collarbone.
  • You notice your skin become red and inflamed, or you have an infection.

You usually do not require emergency medical help, but it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible when you have a growing infection of the skin. Sometimes, it is important to have your lymph nodes drained quickly, so you should talk to your doctor about how to drain lymph nodes, because if you do not drain your lymph nodes properly, serious complications such as lymphangiosarcoma may occur. Seek immediate medical attention when a lymph node in your neck makes it difficult to breathe. 

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