Neck Dissection

George42 Member Posts: 5 Member
edited March 2014 in Head and Neck Cancer #1
My husband had a bilateral neck dissection (after being treated w/ chemo & radiation for base of tongue sqaumous cell carcinoma)a couple weeks ago. His major problems now are: a lot of severe tightness in the neck (feels like a "choke collar"), pins and needles feeling in the chest, back of head, ears & pain in these areas along with the shoulders. He has much trouble sleeping in bed, spends half the night sitting up in a chair to releive symptoms. Pain meds help somewhat, but not enough. He will be starting physical therapy in a few days.

Can anyone relate to these symptoms? Any good or bad experiences with physical therapy to help w/ range of motion?

Thanks for any help,



  • WillieP
    WillieP Member Posts: 6

    Can I have a quesstion? Why did he has to go thru neck dissection after being treat w/ chemo and radiation?
  • soccerfreaks
    soccerfreaks Member Posts: 2,788 Member

    I had a radical neck dissection along with replacement of half of tongue, followed by chemo and radiation. I am surprised, in fact, that they did these in reverse order in your husband's case, but that is beside the point.

    I can tell you that following a 15 hour surgery, and 33 rad treatments, and a number of chemo treatments, I DID NOT experience the pain you describe for your husband!

    My biggest problem was phlegm, which kept me awake at night!

    I recognize that it has not been so long since treatment for your husband, but consider this, Angel: if I go into any hospital in America (or elsewhere, I would venture) complaining of severe tightness in my throat, I would be NEXT in line for service in the emergency room.

    I would advise that, if you have not yet done so, you return with your husband at your very earliest convenience to get an explanation for this pain as well as a means for rectifying it AT ONCE.

    Having cancer, having survived cancer, is no reason to suffer. Your husband should not, in my humble opinion, be experiencing ANY of this pain, including the 'pins and needles'.

    It is apparently true that chemotherapy may result in some funny side effects, some of which include dysfunction and or pain in the ear, for example, but if this is the case, you should be so advised by the experts.

    In the meantime, I say again, a constricted feeling in the throat, such that you describe it as a 'choke collar' is beyond the call of duty for your husband and would be considered an emergency in my household (my wife has been a nurse of high regard for more than 15 years), and probably at the hospital as well.

    Good luck with this, to both you and your husband.

    Take care.
  • George42
    George42 Member Posts: 5 Member
    WillieP said:


    Can I have a quesstion? Why did he has to go thru neck dissection after being treat w/ chemo and radiation?

    My husband was strongly advised (including 2nd opinion) to have a neck dissection because of the size of the original lump on the left side. Later, in the early stages of radiation, a large lump appeared on the right side also. We were told when the enlarged lymph nodes are more than two or three centimeters long, surgery is strongly recomended. In his case it was the way to go. The biopsy of the lymph nodes removed found live microscopic cancer cells in 2 or the 36 nodes removed. These were not found the the greatly enlarged nodes. All that was found in those were dead cancer cells.

    Angel18 & George42
  • hipwr1
    hipwr1 Member Posts: 8 Member
    I had radical neck dissection (and throat carving) done on 4/24/07 followed by 33 rad. and 7 Erbitux chemo and Ethyol injections. I experienced the same pain your husband is feeling, but not down in my chest. The pain is basically "nerve pain" and the recovery time is going to be based a lot on whether the nerves were stretched or severed during the surgery. I am coming up on 3 months, post-surgery, and I still have numbness and tightness in the left side of my neck and shoulder. Range of motion is gradually coming back, I basically have been working on it myself. You lose everything, as far as strength goes. I used to do fly exercises with 30-40# dumbbells in each hand, and now I struggle with an 8# dumbbell. But, trust me, it will come back. Hopefully, the nerves were stretched and not severed, and that will make the recovery quicker.
    Talk to a "pain control specialist" - I was placed on Lyrica - which is a newer nerve pain med. It did mask the pain 100%, but it also added to my dry mouth during my treatments. I ended up coming off of the Lyrica after about 4 weeks, but only due to the dry mouth.
    As far as sleeping, go to a Bed, Bath & Beyond store and purchase a foam wedge pillow. Place your husband's regular pillow on top of the wedge, and see if that gives him some relief. I used it to allow for tube feedings during the night, but it also helped with the comfort of the nerve pain. You will be out about $35, but if it allows for comfortable sleep, it is a small price to pay.
    Good luck with everything, and I hope I was able to help, a little bit.
  • Kim-Darryl
    Kim-Darryl Member Posts: 1
    My husband had a modified neck dissection almost three weeks ago after being treated with 6 weeks of external radiation and one week of internal radiation (brachy therapy) for a squamous cell carcinoma of the right base of the tongue T2N2aM0 (Stage IV). He is experiencing a lot of the same symptoms as your husband. He is also experiencing a lot of pain swallowing and talking is also painful at times. He could swallow fine the first week post surgery but for the past 10 or so days it has been more difficult. Is your husband experiencing the same thing? His pain meds help a little, he is on Tylenol 3 and uses Morphine as well depending on the particular type of pain. What is your husband using? We saw the surgeon and the oncologist a few days ago and they say that this is normal.
  • margieL
    margieL Member Posts: 4
    I had a dissectiion & half my tongue removed as well as the lymph nodes which were also cancerous in October last year followed by 33 radiation treatments and chemo which finished in February this year. I still have that tightness in the throat and the tingling and numbness in ear and shoulder and upper chest. I have been told it is "normal" and should disappear over time. I sleep on at least 2 pillows because if I lie flat I also feel like I have a tight collar on. I also have numbness on the left side of my head at the back and front I am slowly getting the strength back in my left arm so that is good. I have been told it is a long process and to be patient. I am also still experiencing a lot of pain in my face, this is also normal. I still am only eating soups and most of the time cannot taste anything. This should get better in the next few months. I certainly hope so. I have become obsessed with food and watch every cooking show on television LOL.
  • nwman7
    nwman7 Member Posts: 5
    I had a b neck dis. 4/30/2006 Everything is better with time. I only had one hot lymph node out of 20. Now I eat anything except hot spicy foods. Still have dry mouth and wake up every 2 to 4 hours with mouth stuck together.Stay strong and know that things will get better and time starts to fly by, way to fast as we get older.