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Lymphadema

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi gang,

I asked my ENT surgeon if some sort of massage therapy might be beneficial to post operative healing in my case. He recommended I see a lymphadema specialist. Now, he hadn't volunteered that I should do this, I brought up the massage suggestion myself. This makes me think that he doesn't think I'm having any problem with Lymphadema. My intention was maybe helping nerve function recover and reducing post-op swelling.

Has anyone who has undergone a neck disection and/or thyroid surgery had any problem with Lymphedema?

Does anyone know what the incidence rate of post neck disection Lymphedema is?

Thanks,
Alan

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

I guess I should define Lymphedema for those of us who don't know what it is {like me until a few days ago.}

From wiki ...

"Lymphedema (lymphoedema in British English), also known as lymphatic obstruction, is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system."

Surgical removal of a lymph node may cause this.

Alan

amorriso
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2010

Yeah - I have the swelling too after the neck dissection. It's mainly on my right side under the jawbone. It was improving really well - I was doing some massage that the physio showed me. Its back now that I just went through my second RAI treatment this week. I kind of feel like I should have the mumps.

Have you had problems with your salivary glands? My right one loves to swell when I eat - its gross having to squeeze the saliva out.

The joys of recovery

Cheers

Andrea

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

No, no problem with them. I normally drink a large amount of water with each meal {3 to 4 10oz glasses} and that probably keeps that from happening.

Alan

sunnyaz
Posts: 582
Joined: Oct 2010

I haven't personally experienced this but I have heard of it happening. From what I understand the Lymph nodes become clogged and unable to excrete. The purpose of the Lymph system is to catch disease, identify it and let our immune system know that it is an invader so that we can become immune to that particular disease next time it tries to invade our body. My guess is that when they become swollen, they aren't able to get rid of the waste due to damage or shock from RAI or surgery. I have heard that Infrared Heat Sauna's are most helpful in cleaning out and detoxifying the Lymphatic system. Do an on line search about them and see what you find out. I read that doctors are endorsing them. I personally have too much debt to afford one right now (about $1200 for a one person sauna new), but I will be first in line to buy one as soon as I am able to afford it. I also heard that a half hour session will burn off about 600 calories. There are many other benefits to the Infrared Heat sauna including minimizing cellulite fat. Oh boy, that is definitely for me.

Here is something else I heard about. I am going to copy and paste:

Lymphatic Drainage Therapy™
A Hidden Key to Health and Longevity
The Lymph Drainage Therapy process involves the use of gentle manual maneuvers to aid in the recirculation of body fluids. While the exact amount of pressure applied depends on the area and pathology involved, it averages an extremely light five grams, or the equivalent weight of a nickel.
Using this technique, trained therapists are able to detect the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymph flow anywhere in the body. From there they can use their hands to perform Manual Lymphatic Mapping (MLM) of the vessels to assess the overall direction of lymphatic circulation, areas of stagnation, and the best alternate pathways for draining lymph and other body fluids.
What you may experience after a Lymphatic Drainage treatment:
improved memory
improved acuity of senses: taste, smell, distance and color vision
a sense of internal “harmony”
feel younger
energy level may increase considerably due to the cleansing and deletion of “trapped” toxins and proteins.
reduction of puffiness in the face and body
elimination of dark circles
End of copy and paste.

I honestly don't know if this works or not. I don't know anyone that has done it.

Blessings,
Julie-SunnyAZ

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Julie,

I just made an appt with the lymphedema clinic for next Thursday. I have a number of issues for them which I'm hoping they can provide an answer to.

My area of concern is the persistent {or maybe normal duration} swelling in the area where I no longer have any lymph nodes. As far as I can tell from the pathology report, I don't think I have any lymphatic vessels there either. I'm wondering if the swelling is because the lymphatic system can no longer drain that area or what. So I was trying to see if there was some sort of treatment that would help.

I'm hoping that an additional benefit from reduced swelling will be the reduction of symptoms from the trauma to my cranial accessory nerve. I'm hoping that some of these symptoms are being caused by the swelling along the side of my neck.

I will report back after my appointment to let everyone know. It could be some of us with neck disections are having lymphedema problems without knowing it. Hopefully they'll give me something definate to look for as an indicator.

===

I don't know about a suana, but I'm sure you'd make a good sales person:)

I've seen demonstrations of lymph drainage massage on youtube, but that's all I know about it. I'm guessing it will be done to me when I have my appointment.

Alan

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi gang,

Well, I saw the therapist Thursday. Although I asked some direct questions, the answers were somewhat circumstancial. There is no definate sign that can tell you if you're experiencing Lymphedema. The therapist said any swelling that lasts more than two or three weeks post-op is probably Lymphedema, but this contradicts what I've been told by others that post-op swelling is likely to last two to three months.

I was given some exercises to do. But these are to relieve some stiffness that I still have in my right front neck {sternoclidomastoid} muscle and in my right front shoulder.

I was shown some massage techniques for neck lymph drainage. I'm not sure exactly what these are supposed to do since I no longer have lymph nodes or lymph vessels where my neck disection was performed. I pointed this out, I'm not sure about the reason given.

I was asked to make three further weekly appointments followed perhaps by some monthly appointments thereafter. I've made the three weekly, but I can't help but wonder if they will be beneficial. I'm guessing that all I'm accomplishing is contributing in a very small way to the rising cost of health care.

I believe the initial appointment was worth it if only for the stretching exercises for my neck and shoulder. However I have some doubts that my swelling is actually lymphedema {or even that there is any swelling, it may only be muscle rigidity.}

Sorry I couldn't provide better information, I think this particular aspect of neck disection recovery is something of a judgement call. I'll report back again after one or two appointments.

Alan

amorriso
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi again. I read your post regarding the info given to you by the clinic. I remember my surgeon telling me that swelling could last 6 months or longer. He explained that since I no longer had lymph nodes in the neck, the fluid had to find new pathways to travel - hence swelling. He has checked my neck and is pleased with the progress, but says I really have to be patience....which I'm not.

I've tried a lymphatic drainage massage at one of the local health clubs - it involves the whole body and felt pretty good. I dont know if it helped any, but I really felt relaxed after. I'm going to try to go once a week.

Still doing physio for the shoulder - slowly but surely its getting a bit stronger - I can lift a bag of groceries now. Its still gets really stiff at times though.

Will look for your updates.

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