Combined Decongestive Therapy

Combined decongestive therapy (CDT) is a massage technique that combines manual lymph drainage, compression bandaging, skin care and exercise therapy. CDT was designed for people with lymphedema, a disorder that can occur when lymph nodes have been removed or are impaired, usually after cancer treatment.  This condition causes fluid build-up in the tissues due to blockage or impairment of the lymphatic vessels or nodes.  Lymphedema does not resolve on its own and continued swelling eventually causes the size of the limb to increase, greatly impairing mobility and use.

Treated early, lymphedema can be controlled with combined decongestive therapy.  CDT is a safe and effective treatment for reducing swollen areas to normal size.  There are typically 4 phases of treatment:

  • Skin care – cleansing, lubrication, debriding and lotion
  • Manual lymph drainage – gentle massage to stimulate and direct lymphatic flow towards functioning lymph systems
  • Compression therapy – applying compression to the limb, reducing swelling and aiding in removal of lymph fluid
  • Exercise therapy – muscular contraction, joint mobility, strengthening and reducing muscle waste

Find out if combined decongestive therapy is right for you. Registered massage therapists are trained to assess and treat this condition.

Specific Techniques


Select a region to view to corresponding Combined Decongestive Therapy professionals operating there: