Jun 21, 2013 - 5:07 pm
Remembering that I have had radiation twice, most will not run into this problem. But some will, and as I've not seen a reference to it before, thought I'd talk about this situaton. It has taken me awhile to figure out I had a problem.
Beginning soon after my last radiation, I started having mild bilateral shoulder pain. I had deconditioned a lot during treatment, and I assumed it would get better with time. I started an exercise program, including jogging and wieghtlifting immediately upon completion of radiation, and my stamina got rapidly better. But not my shoulder pain. I I noticed that, although I made progress on the weights, I have only regained about 70% of my previous capabilities. My pain is pretty non-specific. Central to both shoulders, not in a spot which suggests a trigger point, therefore not in my mind suggestive of a specific diagnosis.
Six months ago my Tai Chi instructor told me I had bad posture, and that I needed to work on it. I thought "what?" I've never had bad posture before. None of this has been at a level I've even mentioned it to my ENT oncologist. Anyway, yesterday I got to palpating my posterios shoulder, at least to the best of my ability. And I found that I have signifcant loss of the mid portion and upper portion of both trapezius muscles. This led to a websearch for shoulder problems related to radiation.
It didn't take long for a websearch to discover the situation. So I'm posting the definitive article on the topic of radiation fibrosis and its effect on shoulder musculature. I'm going to immediatly modify my exercises to include strengthening of the affected muscles (trapezius exercises are straightforward, but heretofore not included in my program). I will resume my stretching exercises for the areas of difficulty, and have recruited help from my family on maintaining currect posture. I will also arrange to see the radiation oncologist for additional discussion.
The posture component of this is pretty subtle. My posterior muscles have weakened, but the anterior muscles (like pectoralis) have not weakened. So a stooped shape now feels normal. Pretty sneaky. Anyway, here's the reference:
Hoping this is of some use to others.