The Lymphatic System, Chronic Inflammation, and Pain.

April 29, 2018



Is inflammation the cause of your chronic hip pain, sore back or aching shoulder? My average total treatments to removing chronic pain are now down to 3 sessions per client. One of the reasons I have achieved this is because I took the time to attend courses, read relevant material and experiment with different treatment protocols for the lymphatic system. Therefore, it seems a great topic for a blog post!


Chronic inflammation was nicknamed the “Secret Killer” back in 2004 by Time magazine. It has been linked to cancer, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.


In my clinic, I note the effects of chronic inflammation with my clients on a daily basis. I see it causing neck pain, decreasing range of motion in the shoulders/hips, chronically tightening hamstrings.  It can also cause point specific pain in the knee and lower back fatigue etc. In short, if it’s a chronic pain, tightness or weakness I’ve seen it been caused by inflammation.


Chronic inflammation often has a widespread and somewhat random effect on our muscles and organs.  I will often test about 30 muscles throughout the body to find maybe 10 of them inhibited (weak). Once I assess the lymphatic system (a main proponent of the immune system) and find lymph nodes not functioning correctly, I can have the lymph nodes up and running effectively in a few minutes and - presto! - all those previously weak muscles have instantly become strong and functioning normally again.


The question then becomes - what stopped the lymph nodes functioning correctly in the first place? Are they going to revert to a dysfunctional state in a month, a week or even when I get you up and walking around the clinic for a minute? 


I’ll often find an incorrect neural drive to the spleen as the primary driver of lymphatic dysfunction.  It can also be the liver, or gut inflammation from eating something you are sensitive or allergic to that has a ripple down effect of inhibiting lymph nodes. Research has shown that stress, lack of exercise, poor diet and sleep deprivation can all contribute to chronic inflammation.


The immune system is responsible for controlling the inflammatory response. Acute inflammation protects our bodies against invading organisms and controls the healing response to cuts, sprains, strains, post-surgery etc. However, our high-stress lifestyle can significantly inhibit the immune system’s ability to function properly, altering its ability to turn off this acute response, which results in continuous low-grade chronic inflammation regionally or systemically in our body.


The lymphatic system plays a vital role in supporting both the cardiovascular and immune systems. It has a part in controlling blood pressure and it can directly attack infections and alert the whole immune system into action.


Lymph fluid is excess fluid in our tissues that does not get drawn back into the capillaries at the venous end of our circulatory system.  We process about 3 litres of blood fluid via the lymph back into the bloodstream per day (which is more than half of our total blood volume).


Lymph nodes (within the lymphatic system) monitor and check lymph fluid as it filters through them back to the bloodstream. They contain lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), that can either release resident macrophages to destroy foreign bodies or activate the general immune system outside of the lymph nodes if they need extra support.


The spleen is the largest lymphatic organ (located in the left abdomen), it acts as a blood filter; it controls the number of red blood cells and blood storage in the body, and helps to fight infection.


There are about 600-700 lymph nodes in the body.  Most are deep within our bodies but there are superficial clusters that I can check for correct function. They include the lymph nodes behind the knees, the inguinal lymph nodes (at our groin/inner thigh, superficial to our adductor muscles) and the axillary nodes (around the armpit). These can all be checked for correct neural drive function directly through clothes, and these days I like to test them within the first or second session on almost every client. 


If any of the lymph nodes test positive, I have seen that there is a high probability that chronic inflammation is the root of the problem.  Thankfully, I have many techniques to negate incorrectly functioning lymph nodes.


It should be noted that as an RMT I am not allowed to make a diagnosis. RMTs can, however, perform tests from which we can create hypotheses on why symptoms are present and treat accordingly. Clients find it fascinating to be part of the process of realizing that certain muscles are not performing correctly and witness the fast feedback loop of treating something (e.g. a lymph node), coming back to retest and finding the muscle is now functioning correctly. I am obsessed with the puzzles of the body - I love what I do!  


If you have been suffering with chronic pain and haven’t been able to find a solution, Ottawa Neurokinetic Therapy can help, and it won’t take a whole bunch of your time or money to do so!

Inguinal lymph node highlighted in blue.


Axillary lymph node highlighted in blue.



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