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feelings of neck constriction 9 months post RT

Kaylee-parotid's picture
Kaylee-parotid
Posts: 16
Joined: Feb 2010

Hi all, I had RT to the parotid salivary gland area and down one side of my neck, just off centre so that it didn't incude the windpipe. For the last month I have had the feeling in my neck, like someone has a hold of my windpipe and is squeezing it. It is not restricting my breathing or swallowing, but is uncomfortable. My head and neck specialist didn't have anything helpful to say about it. I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this and come up with a solution? I was wondering if there are muscles which circle the neck which might have stiffened up, (the ones going verticaly certainly have) which might be pulling on my neck, and whether getting a physiotherapist to give my neck a good twist and stretch might do some good?
Any ideas?

janymac
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

I would not think a twist would help and would be very uncomfortable, but gentle stretching exercises should help and a physio can help with that. Do keep it mobile though, rather than holding it stiffly as mine stiffened right up and have restricted movement. You also might find some of it is fluid build up too from lymph.Is it worse in the morning or evening or constant?

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5608
Joined: Apr 2009

Welcome to CSN glad to see you posting, I would ask my doc if therapy would help and let them line you up with someone who deals with people that have had cancer. I agree with janymac don’t let it go to long as it could get worse or become permanent.

Greend's picture
Greend
Posts: 679
Joined: Feb 2010

I am almost 13 years post and every once in a while the muscles on the side of my neck will tighten/constrict. Like you it doesn't impair breathing or swallowing but it is there and is a bit of an annoyance. I found that if I simply press the muscle slightly with my fingers is tends to ease up for a while. Also Tei-fu ointment (Ben Gay probably works as well) seems to give me relief at times, especially at night.

monniw
Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2008

I also had radiation to my left parotid gland area (i had a parotidectomy so it's no longer there). from what the radiation doc and oncos told me, radiation can burn the tissues inside your throat as well. you probably know this... we're more proned to sores in the mouth, throat, etc. you're probably experiencing some type of sores in your throat or possibly scar tissue in that area. like the others posted, physical therapy or occupational therapy should be helpful (ie. exercises). They also have a liquid you can drink that numbs the mouth/throat for like 30 minutes to allow you to eat for that period of time. i hope that helps! and good luck with everything else. :]

Kaylee-parotid's picture
Kaylee-parotid
Posts: 16
Joined: Feb 2010

Thanks all of you for your suggestions. I'll try a physio appointment and see how I go!

Kaylee-parotid's picture
Kaylee-parotid
Posts: 16
Joined: Feb 2010

In typical fashion of taking something to the repair shop only to find that it's working; my sore throat stopped being sore 2 days before my physio appointment. (Which just happened to co-incide with a change in antibiotics for a chronic ear infection - on the radiated side of course.) And of course - within 2 weeks of the end of the antibiotics, the ear infection and the throat issues are back. So - I'm figuring this sore throat is actually an infection - which is linked with my ear infection. Perhaps the radiation has produced some teenagent mutant ninja superbugs which are taking over my body!! (It's all right. I'm joking (mostly))

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I am not a doctor, kaylee, but I've studied enough of those muscle charts while waiting impatiently in their offices that I think I can say with some certainty that if there are horizontal muscles in the neck they are few and far between. Quite a few that crisscross, if I remember correctly, but none that run left to right.

I think it is enough that the vertical ones have been through an ordeal. I know that more than four years following rads I still have cramps on occasion. They are painful, to be sure, but also of short duration. (They hurt like hell, to be honest, but that's just between you and me.)

Like you, I have brought this up to any number of doctors (one) and they seem to think it is part of the deal so I accept it. My personal theory is that radiation is the culprit. I found that physical therapy helped a great deal, even if the PT was for another purpose.

If it is a continuing problem for you, consider physical therapy, including warm towel baths and massages (I know!). Consider one of those rice towels (I was provided the gift of a thing that is comfortable cloth filled with rice: you stick the thing in the microwave to heat it, and then wrap it around your neck: don't ask me, I just live here).

It will get better. It will.

Take care,

Joe

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Dehydration.

Much of what we experience as cramping and stricture has to do with lack of proper hydration. Ask any athlete.

I think we tend over time to dismiss or forget some of the things we did early on, during treatment and following it, to save ourselves, as it were. It happens that some of them are quite important, hydration among them.

Take care,

Joe

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