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Thyroid cancer

A place for people affected by thyroid cancer to support one another, ask questions, and share their experiences.

Throat restriction with neck dissection.

Nanny h
Posted by

Hi need to speak to people that have had a neck dissection, my cancer started on my ear (melanoma), they removed ear 29thdec to find it had spread to parotid gland and nodes in neck, so gland and 62 nodes removed, im now 12 weeks on from operation and still have swelling,pain and alot of stiffness in neck, the main thing is when all this is going on it puts pressure on my throat and windpipe and feels like im slowly being strangled by an invisble man, the front inside feels narrowed and sqashed some days and i fear its actualy going to close up, thankfully it hasnt yet and it has been on and off for weeks, some days im in tears as its so scary, just wondering if anyone wlse has had this experience and how dd they deal with it, its been alot of mind over matter but some days it takes over and im in a right state thankyou.

K1R57Y19
Posted by

Hi there,

Sorry to hear that you are struggling.

I am 7.5 months post op from a total thyroidectomy and left side neck dissection with 3 cancerous lumps removed. To this day I still have swelling, hardness, tenderness, stiffness, tightness etc! 

Are you taking any anti inflammatory tablets? Ibuprofen helped me a bit, every 4hrs and paracetamol or co-codamol. 

A cold flannel may help with the swelling or a warm one for stiffness.

If you are too concerned then do not hesitate to contact your specialist nurse.

Hope this helps

Lass
Posted by

Hi there,

This is kind of aimed at both of you, having read both of your messages.

When they remove your lymph nodes, they need to cut through a lot of tissues to try and hunt them all down. Sometimes, they nick or damage nerves and tendons too, but it doesn't sound like that's happened to either of you. It sounds like what you're experiencing is the natural healing and scarring that happens after a neck dissection.

Now it's better to start earlier rather than later, but it's always worth doing - but there are specific exercises to do to keep flexibility and help keep scarring to a minimum. There's also a type of massage to help reduce swelling that often occurs after the operation.

It's going to be more difficult at the moment, but please don't shy away because of everything going on with the virus. You need to ask your GP to show you, or print you off, the instructions for neck physio and also lymphatic massage of the neck. Alternatively, a referral to a physio who might be able to help you in a video chat - I'm not sure what they are doing at the moment and how they are coping. If you can get help with both of those, then over time you'll hopefully reduce that tightness and the scarring inside, so that you no longer feel like you're being strangled. It takes time, but it does work. But don't google the exercises or the massage! There are lots of exercises and techniques out there, and not all of them are appropriate. So make sure you have a professional tell you what to do and how.

Oh and yes, anti-inflammatories will def help as well if you're able to take them.

Good luck

Lass

xx

I have no medical training, everything I post is an opinion or educated guess. It is not medical advice.

Portabubblejoan
Posted by

Hi,

I had a l left neck dissection in 2017. I felt like this too, there was lots of tears and fear back then. But time really is a great healer. I needed to lie down a lot to take the weight off my neck. And went through so many pillows until I found one that was comfortable. Doing the exercises really helped too. I hope you feel better soon 

cocomo
Posted by

Hi,

Do you mind sharing what type of pillow finally worked for you? 
Thank you. 

Portabubblejoan
Posted by

I think at the time I settled on a supersoft pillow, I think it was feather. Now I have a memory foam pillow that's contoured round my neck and has like a dip in it for the head. A lot of people on here talk about the V pillow being great. My partner bought me one after my surgery but it was a memory foam type and I couldn't stick it at all. I think there's a softer type of V pillow available, and i think that's the one most people go for. I've actually lost count of the number of pillows I've bought in the last few years. I'm dunelms best customer. 

Jay1979
Posted by

Hi, I had thyroidectomy, central and right neck dissection removing all lymph nodes, they also cut my accessory nerve so I get alot of stiffness and permanent numbness. I find the neck stretches and exercise s do help a little but it doesn't completely alleviate it, Ialso get the strangled tight feeling but the more I think about it the worse it feels if that makes sense, if I start to feel it I take a drink of water or something to take my mind off it, I think it's alot to do with scar tissue aswell, I tend to drink alot more water because I get really dry especially if I talk alot. My operation was a year ago so think you kind of get used to it.