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swelling

dennis318's picture
dennis318
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

I've been back to my regular cancer doctors, and have recently noticed that my neck, where i had hard radiation is swelling, not a little but alot, both the doctors have told me this is expected after radiation. Has Anyone else had this happen. I finished radiation January 26th, and I also went to the dentist, thinking maybe an absese, No dental problems.Thanks, I am concerned,and no one seems to think anything about it, also i had a trach put in 3 weeks ago..Please let let me know asap, if any of you have had the same condition happen to you. Thanks Dennis

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5843
Joined: Apr 2009

I had mild swelling in the neck after radiation and chemo and it took several months after the treatment stopped for it to go down. No heaving swelling that I can remember, hope that helps

All the best to you my friend

dennis318's picture
dennis318
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

Thanks Hondo, right there for me, It just seems to be alot, and Doctors, evidently are not concerned, I am...lol

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1249
Joined: Aug 2009

if the Docs are not concerned I bet it's just a case of lymph fluid not being able to drain properly. is it hard? The accumulated proteins make it hard and massaging will break it down and allow it to drain. If you had surgery there is also swelling that comes from that. There is a term for it that escapes me right now. try some mild massage. does the swelling move upon sleeping? That is if you lay to one side do you find more swelling in that direction?

dennis318's picture
dennis318
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

That's exactly what it does Ratface...I will start massaging the area, and see what happens, it does seem to shift when i sleep, do cold or warm compresses help at all..Thanks Again guys!. Dennis

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5843
Joined: Apr 2009

I know the feeling brother, every time I seen a little blood in my noise I was calling the doctor and wanting to go see him, but he explained that the radiation has exposed a lot of the blood vessels and just a little too much dryness will make it bleed, I don’t worry so much now when I see it. Don’t let your guard down keep checking yourself as I still do and if you have any questions call your ENT that is what you paid him to do.

Take care my friend

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1249
Joined: Aug 2009

Dennis

If in fact is't lymphedema then very light massage will help the most. if possible go for a few sessions with a certified lymphedema massage therapist. Have your ENT write you a script. They have a national register on the web and also ask for recommendations where you are being treated. I don't think heat or cold is going to have any effect on it. It basically needs to break apart and drain. It's a gravity system. The therapist are trained in moving the fluid along kind of like a slinky. It's a very common side effect in breast cancer but we get it to because of the destruction of lymph glands.

Greg53's picture
Greg53
Posts: 830
Joined: Apr 2010

Great advice Rat. I've been having difficulties with that myself. Will check out getting appointment with therapist soon. How long does it take to break up?
Greg

MarineE5
Posts: 756
Joined: Dec 2005

Ratface and Greg,

Ratface, that has to be the best description of moving the lymphnode fluid that I have heard yet : ) I can picture it now.

Greg, each person reacts to the massage differently, mainly due to the amount of Lymphnodes removed in the neck disections and if it was done on one side or both.

Our lymphnode system is close to the surface, just under the skin and does not require a deep muscle type of a massage. Just a light massage to get the fluids moving. The fluid normally moves at 1/3 the speed of our blood flow.

I know Ratface did post a in depth explanation awhile back, but I'm not good at tracing back for prior posts. Some things that cause us to have fluid at the face and neck are exercise. My Physical Therapist told me that if we exercise and lift anything over 25 pounds the blood flow and lymph system flow to the area of the work being done. Shoulder area and neck.

She also told me that we are lucky compared to other cancer patients that suffer from lymphadema as gravity is on our side. The lymphnode reservoir is located near the waist line and to the left. So the fluids do make their way down our body if we are walking around, etc.

Sleeping in a inclined position will also help keep the gathering of fluids during the night. Try to sleep with your head and neck above your heart level and it will cut down on the amount of fluid gathered.

Salt, try to stay away from salt until you get the flow back. Holding more water in our bodies at this time only adds to it.

When you do the massage, it should last about 4-6 hours and you may have to do it more often if you do heavy work. After about 3-4 months, I noticed that I was having to do it less each day. I still do it, but not as often. Allot depends on your activity levels.

Just remembered one of Ratface's points of interest. He stated it well by saying that the lymphnode system had the main avenues removed and has to be retrained to flow to the smaller roads, or something to that effect.

My Best to You and Everyone Here

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8095
Joined: Sep 2009

Sounds like you are in the early stages of what we all refer to as Turkey Neck. I never noticed it until a few months out from treatment, then it became very noticeable. Puffy loose and swollen looking mainly under the chin and throat or neck areas.

Yes it is a sign of lack of lymph fluid drainage. Gently massage can help, time is probably the best overall remedy.

I'm almost a year out now, and have noticed these last month or two that a lot of the swelling that I was having, especially in the mornings is not as nearly pronounced as previously.

Hang in there and more than likely, eventually the fluids will establish new drainage pathways and lessen the swelling.

John

dennis318's picture
dennis318
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

Your right, it is very swollen and tender just abouve the trach openinig the soreness is lessening a little, just need to work on this puffiness, looks totally out of wack, scranny and skinny body and a throat that is huge...By the way, I did mangage to gain 7 lbs, since my last drs. visit, 142 to 148, this is truly an accomplishment, and they also said they could see more positive, progress this time..Thanks John for answering my question Bud..Take Care, Dennis In TN.

debbiejeanne's picture
debbiejeanne
Posts: 2506
Joined: Jan 2010

Dennis, gald to hear about the weight gain! Hopefully you will continue to gain until you are at a satisfactory weight. Good luck!
God Bless,
Debbie

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1249
Joined: Aug 2009

Greg to answer you question it takes about 8 sessions at least 2 per week to have an effect.

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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