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Edema following neck dissection

picadilly217
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2010

Following surgery for throat cancer and neck dissection I have been experiencing constant edema even after 3 months, is this normal and is there anyone out there that can shed some light on this subject.

stevenl's picture
stevenl
Posts: 587
Joined: Jan 2010

Pidadilly,
Are you receiving radiation treatments? The edema can be caused by this.

Steve

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1231
Joined: Aug 2009

I have a very bad case of the turkey neck. I have been going for lymphedema massage for about a month now and it seems to help for the day but then reverts back to the turkey neck. Personally I think it will take a long time for this to subside if it ever totally clears up. You can find lymphedema massage therapist at some hospitals in the rehab centers. Some may be in the wound care centers. Lymphedema therapist also have an online site where you type in your zip and it finds the nearest therapist.

My therapist explains lymphedema like this: The lymph fluid drains by gravity. There are no muscular structures to move it along. Mine has a very hard center to it and she claims this is the protein left behind that is accumulating causing a lump. After therapy I can feel it soften up. The fluid must have somewhere to go so the lower extremities are the first massage points. As room is made lower down the lymphatic channel she moves up with the massage moving from lymphnode cluster to cluster finally moving the facial and neck fluid along.

The massage is very superficial as the lymph nodes are very close to the skin surface. Her analogy of the system is one of where prior to surgery and radiation the fluid traveled through highways and is now learning to travel on small trailways. My fluid will pool in whatever direction I sleep. Sleeping on your back is best but I cannot do that. Physical exercise will actually make it worse so be careful with that gizmo on TV.

I am currently looking into purchasing a product made by solaris corporation in Wisconsin. They make a compression garment for the head which is worn during sleep. I have heard other HNC patients obtained positive results with this garment. It is expensive, in the range of $500 with most of that not covered by insurance. The garment can be viewed at their site which should be easy to find.

Time may indeeed heal this wound but it may be awhile. Good luck to the rest of you with the same affliction.

I am happy to report that my lypmhedema is almost completely gone. still there a little but very manageble.

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

Ratface is usually right on in his commentary, but I would suggest that you also read some back issues of CURE magazine (an ACS magazine you can find online at www.curetoday.com).

There, in an issue maybe six months or so ago, they highlighted some doctors and researchers from around the United States who have experimented with some success with physical therapy including exercises designed specifically to combat this after-effect.

As you might expect, they are concentrating on breast cancer survivors, but, still, the work seems to indicate that exercise/therapy CAN have a positive impact on lymphedema.

Best wishes.

Take care,

Joe

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1231
Joined: Aug 2009

I fully support exercise as a recuperative process for the body. What I am refering to is that stupid gizmo seen adverised on TV for treating the double chin. That may make it worse As would probably some weight lifing with the head being strained. At the time of that post someone was asking about that resistance thing on TV and that isn't going to work. Please find a lympphedema therapist and give it a try. The sooner you start redirecting flow the sooner you will see results. I went for two months and saw no change. Then one day it just started working again and I'm convinced the massage expedited the process. I also exercised very lightly on the treadmill and used 3 pound weights to tone up after the disection. Good luck and be patient here.

picadilly217
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi, to all of you! thanks for sharing info. I had a partial with neck dissection on both sides November 25th. Believe it or not I had Lung Cancer 25 years ago and had surgery and radiation and have been cancer free untillllll!! I thought I had beat the odds... well I guess I did in a way. This throat cancer really was a shock but I have held up rather well having done the surgery first. After all was said and done I did refuse chemo and radiation due to the fact that my odds were so slim. I know this decision is not the norm but I was ready to just have quality in my life rather than longevity if that makes sense to anyone else. I will say I am not sure if it was the best decision but, I am hoping my surgeon was a miracle worker!! I applaud all of you that elected the radiation and chemo, from what I have heard you all are giants in my book!! Carolyn

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