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Neck Dissection & PT

GraceLibby's picture
Posts: 88
Joined: Jul 2010

Just a quick question. How many folks went to or requested physical therapy after their neck dissection? I'm about 3 1/2 weeks out from my partial right neck dissection, back to work but my neck is still very stiff/sore. The massage and heat trick works for a time, but about half way through the day the muscles start cramping up and I'm done. Talked to the radiology team yesterday and I'm up for what sounds to be the standard course of treatment (35 rads with chemo) and want to be as healthy as possible before getting into that portion of treatment.

delnative's picture
Posts: 450
Joined: Aug 2009

I had a modified radical neck dissection three months after I'd completed chemo and rads. I was fortunate in that I had virtually no problem after surgery.
The doc had raised the possibility that I might need PT, but I didn't. The only lasting side effect was some numbness on the right side of my face and neck and an inability to open my mouth into an O. I also have a slightly lopsided smile, which I prefer to describe as a wry grin.
But hey, I'm alive.

-Jim in Delaware

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2010

I too have a wry grin, but like you said, I'm alive... 5 yrs, 9 mo. later (age 66)after having cancer 3rd stage.
I had 8 hrs. of surgery, half of my palate was removed,rt. tonsil and a tumor and the rt. base of my tongue, and 23 lymph nodes from my neck and all the muscles. A flap was made from my rt. arm and a vein(I'm a lefty) and stitched inside of my mouth. I refused radiation and chemo because I was so weak that I didn't think I could live through it. It was a very dark time for me because I was considered high risk of cancer returning. and the surgeon though I might lose the ability to speak, but God allowed me to keep my speaking ability without any PT.
After 4 mo. my feeding tube was removed after I proved to the dr. I could eat. I gained 5 lbs. that mo. from eating orally. The only thing, I can't wear my dentures. That was hard to go public without them, but I adjusted and am doing fine.
After my stitches dissolved and my surgery incisions healed. I had no pain whatsoever.
Occasionally I will get a headache at the back base of my head because the left side of my neck muscles totally support my head, but pain medication eases it. Hope this post encourages someone.
This is the site I visited when I was 1st. diagnoised and I found the encouragement I needed and found hope.

dogsrule's picture
Posts: 96
Joined: Apr 2010

I had a modified left neck dissection in Nov. My doctor had a PT come to my house about 2 months after the surgery. She taught me some excersices to keep the scar from binding:
Sitting. Curl chin to chest. Hold 2 counts. Repeat 10 times.
Then look up towards the ceiling. Hold 2 counts. Repeat 10 times.
Tuck your chin in and then stretch your chin outward, like a chicken bobbing it's head
Do 10 counts 3 times.
Turn head and look over right shoulder Hold 2 counts. Now turn and look over left shoulder Hold 2 counts. Repeat 10 times.
Then turn to right and use your right hand on left side of chin to gently push further Hold for 10 slow counts..1 mississipi..2 mississipi...repeat 3 times and then do the other side.
Tilt head to right shoulder Hold 2 counts. Tilt head to left shoulder. Hold 2 counts Repeat 10 times. Tilt head to left shoulder Hold 2 counts. Repeat 10 times Then tilt head to right use your hand to apply pressure gently to tilt head further. Hold for 10 slow counts. Repeat 10 times.
Roll shoulders up and back. Repeat 10 times.
Do not do this right after waking up. Warm up first, a warm shower is good or after you have been moving around a little.

This will keep the scar from binding and being tight. PT said you can always, most of the time break up scar tissue.
Hope this helps you out. It did for me.

Greg53's picture
Posts: 848
Joined: Apr 2010

I had neck dissection in Jan '10 followed by chem/rad which finished in April '10. When they removed nodes they had to take a nerve to the shoulder along with some muscle tissue and my jugular vein. I did a similar routine as Jo did, after talking to a friend who is a PT. When I did those and similar exercises my neck and shoulder never bothered me.

But my middle back has been dealing me fits since April. So I recently just made an appointment with a PT to learn some strenghtening exercises for my middle back muscles. So far it's helped a great deal. Definitely worth going, for me anyways.

Good luck.

chris731's picture
Posts: 24
Joined: Jul 2010

I had radical neck dissection on my right side. They waited six weeks so the incision would be healed before they sent me to radiation. I don't remember my neck being so stiff and feeling tight till radiation. Numbness yes, from my right jaw line down to the top of my shoulder. The only good thing in regards to the surgery is that I didn't lose mobility in my right arm. I can raise it without issues.

It seems tighter when I'm out in the sun, maybe it's my imagination. The ENT that did the surgery offered me therapy, but I figured it'll eventually loosen up if I keep stretching it on my own. I've been through enough as it is.

davidgskinner's picture
Posts: 81
Joined: Dec 2009

I had a partial neck dissection after chemo and rads and did not have any PT. I have done the stretches described here. I also have had a yoga teacher (who is also a cancer survivor) show me some neck stretches that you can do while lying flat. I don't know what kind of work you do and how much space and time you have to stretch out...
Also, the radiation seems to reduce the elasticity of our skin a lot I have found. Any stretching you can do now would seem like a good idea. Just be careful not to overdo it; save your energy for what is to come.

MaryRC's picture
Posts: 114
Joined: Feb 2010

Hi, I havent posted on here for sometime. I had a left neck dissection on March 29th due to a false positive needle biopsy in the back of my neck. ( no cancer at all) My neck is still very tight, feels like it is pulsing and throbbing 24/7. My doctor didnt send me to PT, but online I found a site that said to do stretchings another posting on here said. I have been out on state disabillity( ends on the 9th) because I do heavy lifting with my job. I guess it takes time.
I havent posted on here in ages, but I do come and read how all of you are doing.

GraceLibby's picture
Posts: 88
Joined: Jul 2010

Thank you all for the advice, every little bit helps! I'll try the exercises and if those help, I'll request a 'script for PT.

Thanks again!

Posts: 10
Joined: Oct 2009

I had a radical right neck. I am now 4 months post rad and chemo --- just started PT and boy is it helping. I have done about 12 sessions and the PT is starting to work. I can now lift my right arm almost to my shoulder.... doesn't sound like much but to me it is a big deal. Wish you the best ----

Posts: 10
Joined: Oct 2009

wishing you the best of luck........

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