Neck Pain And Headaches: Long Term Effects of Surgery for Stage IV Oral Cancer

Neck pain plagues me. Even though my surgery removing my SCM 22 years ago, along with a third of my tongue, was a great success, one of the long term effects is muscular issues in my imbalanced neck which leads to headaches. Last night, I had a discovery. The non-surgical side is the one that causes me pain. I fell very little on the surgical side. The pain started in my mid neck and I was experiencing a lower global headache. I massaged the area and pressed on my occipital area. It wasn’t helping.

I started to do the same on the surgical side, gentle pressing and rubbing. I started to feel relief! Obviously, I have nerve damage and scar tissue on that side, so sensitivity is lacking. After 2 Tylenols, in the middle of the night, I was able to get back to sleep.

In the morning, I knew I could take something stronger for the pain. Butalbitol seems to help (acetaminophen (325mg) and caffeine (40mg)) which together acts as a muscle relaxer.

When I shared with other oral cancer survivors about the pain in my neck, many told me they experience the same. If you are a survivor of oral cancer and reading this, don’t stop doing stretches to maintain supple tissue and stimulate nerves. My next post will include exercises that can help.

I’m writing this post with an icepack inside a long pillowcase that is tied in a knot around my neck with my husbands belt wrapped through the knot and around my back to hold cold pressure so I can be hands-free. Please comment below and tell me what you know about neck pain for oral cancer survivors.

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Comments 4

  1. I am writing this post as a suggestion for a comfortable cold pack(Broke my wrist in three places and was given these cold packs for therapy and they are terrific)! You need a kind of stretchy cotton tubing (hand therapist may be a source); tie off an end and fill with dried lentils; then tie off the other end. If you need to tie it around your neck, allow for extra length when cutting. Place in freezer; stays cold but will be comfortable on the skin! Good luck

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  2. Hmm, curious and I did not know this. I do experience intermittent bouts of headaches and have put it down to too much computer time and/or the dreaded ‘menopause’. I will keep this post in mind next time.

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      Nicole, I’ve been getting some craniosacral therapy and its helping me. Mine started just as you described, intermittent bouts of headaches that became clear was coming from my neck. Stay on top of it! Don’t forget to stretch your neck.

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