Effects on the Arms after Neck Surgery

OncoLink
Last Modified: June 8, 2012

Question:

How can the surgery I had on my neck affect my arm? I feel such tightness and have trouble raising my arm like I did before? Is there anything I can do about this?

Answer:

Alexander Lin, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

In an effort to remove the cancer from your neck in a neck dissection, one of the nerves which course through your neck, the spinal accessory nerve, can be affected. This may explain the tightness, mobility, and strength issues that you are experiencing. Work with physical and occupational therapy may help improve your symptoms.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Head and Neck Cancer Q&A Webchat transcript.

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