Physiotherapy after neck dissection

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It is now nineteen months since I had a neck dissection and 43 lymph nodes removed.  The nerve which controls my shoulder was severed and I was left with limited movement.  After about 15 months, having had NHS physio for some months directly after the operation I was still only about 55% back to normal so I decided to enlist the help of a private physiotherapist.  I have been absolutely delighted at the improvement and now have about 90% of my shoulder movement back.  I have been working hard on the exercises but it has been absolutely worth it.  For some reason I believed that  improvement would plateau at about 18 months and there was unlikely to be any improvement after that.  I spoke to the physio about this and she refuted it.  Just thought I would post this in case there is anyone out there who feels deflated that they have not made the recovery they were hoping for.  

  • Hi. Thanks for posting this. I’m so pleased this has worked and I hope other folk pick up on it. Sadly much follow up just isn’t there on the NHS and we have to take our recovery into our own hands. 
    Can I ask how you found a physio who could deal with this particular problem? 
    As for general improvement so many of us are told  two years and that’s it. It’s not. Yes the vast improvement is in the first year but those improvements do continue for years. 


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  • As Dani has said improvement s still happen well past the 2 year mark as many of us can relate to. Sadly we do have to be pro active the nhs  follow up isn’t what it was. Glad your physio worked their magic. 
    Hazel xx

    Hazel aka RadioactiveRaz 

    My blog is  HPV 16+ tonsil cancer Now 5 years  post treatment. 35 radiotherapy 2 chemo T2N2NM.Happily getting on with living always happy to help  

  • I was very lucky with my GP.  Although the hospital basically said accept it my GP arranged physio (an interesting experience during lockdown!) and it made a dramatic change.  That change was almost imperceptible on a daily basis but after 18 months I suddenly realised I could do things that I could not do for months after my dissections.  I always suggest to people that physio can really help post surgery.

    See my profile for more details of my convoluted journey
  • I just went to a physiotherapist in the nearest town and explained my predicament and asked if she felt she could help.