swelling, numbness after surgery? How long?

I'm wondering about others' experiences after neck dissection. I had a central and right neck dissection two weeks ago today. (TT a year ago this month) Above my long scar my neck is swollen and all along the top of the scar there is a lump that is hard. My ear and side of face and under chin are numb. In post op last week they said I am healing beautifully. Well, it's certainly not beautiful (!) Should I be using hotpacks? Coldpacks? Will anything help? Thanks.

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Hi Sandil,

My surgery is not till next week but speaking as a nurse, here is my 2 cents:) The numbness is due to irritation of the nerves by the manipulation of surgery and the swelling. Nerve stuff takes longer to heal, check with your surgeon for specifics but it can take months for sensation to return. It sounds like you are about 1 or 2 weeks out?? If you can take ibuprofen now I would to help with inflammation, otherwise tylenol. Ice packs are good for swelling but hot packs are good for muscle stiffness, aches. You might try a small ice pack right on the swollen area and hot pack for the rest...see what helps the best. Things to be concerned about and contact your doctor for are fever, increase in pain and swelling and redness at incision site. Lymph nodes are part of the body's process to manage swelling, removal of these will contribute to continued swelling. Also neck face areas are more prone to swelling in general (the places where swelling looks the worst swell the most!).

Hang in there, give yourself time to heal, I know since it is your neck/face it looks bad to you-but if the staff says it looks good (and they see tons of incisions in various stages of healing) I think you can be reassured.

take care

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Npants, thank you so much! My surgeon, who I really liked and I know is good, was very non-committal about the numbness because I think he didn't want to tell me that I might not get feeling back in some of those places. He was so happy that I could move my arm above my head and that my vocal cords weren't harmed I almost felt like I would be hurting his feeling if I told him that this numbness is driving me crazy! I know that's silly. Thank you for your advice and good luck with your surgery!

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I had numbness in my neck area after my TT. It went away after a month or so as the nerves healed.

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I had a TT with left neck dissection in May of last year. I still have a numb patch on the left side of my neck under my jaw.
I completely understand what you mean about it driving you nuts. Please be assured though that it will get better. I am not saying that the sensations will all stop or you will get all feelings back, but you will heal more and things become more muted. I have to shave that numb patch at least every other day, it used to drive me bonkers. The neck swelling and hard lumps, gnomes living in there and all that other weirdness has mostly gone away.

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Thank you Theresa858 and cflo for your comments. It's weird, I thought that having the thyroid removed would have been more intense than having the lymph nodes removed but that has certainly not been the case. For me this is much more difficult to deal with.

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Thanks for posting this question and a thank you to those who replyed.
I had a radical neck procedure, March 2011. From mid neck to my right ear and then another incission in the middle of that, it looks like a "T" on its side. I still have burning, numbness and overall discomfort.

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I had left neck dissection and TT earl September 2011. I still have swelling and numbness, although much of the numbness around my jaw and ear are gone. There is still moe numbness about midway up my neck and around my scar. It is hard to tell what is from surgery or RAI treatment re: swelling at this point. But, ti has gotten significantly better, and less of a feeling of choking/ligature than initially. All the best in speedy healing!

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I had a right side modified radical neck dissection two weeks ago and I'm still in horrible pain. I have awful swelling that comes and goes in severity and a really gnarly looking Scar that of course 'looks great'. I'm having burning pain that feels like what I would describe as ten times the worst sunburn you can imagine in the areas where the skin is numb on the outside. I came out of surgery with some sort of rash that left a scaly patch of skin below the incision line. It hurts so bad I can't function, I'm barely sleeping and the maximum amount of pain medication they gave me won't take it away. They tried a nerve pain medicine and that hasn't worked yet either. My shoulder is also in serious pain and the pills don't seem to touch it anymore.

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Oh thehoot, that sounds awful! Much worse than what I'm experiencing. Have they checked for infection? That burning does not sound like part of the healing process to me. The shoulder pain though - yes! I have that too but really was thinking it was unrelated since I seem to have so many aches and pains these days. I hope they figure out a way to help ease your pain. Keep posting your progress.

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Thanks for being nice to me. :) it sounds funny, but I appreciate it.

They think the burning is my nerves trying to regenerate - sort of "refusing to die". My surgeon thinks that because the burning is primarily in the areas of numbness. What's creepy is she may be right - I'm getting some feeling back from the numb areas already. I've always been very resistant to local anaesthetic and I think I might either have super-nerves, or I'm turning into a vampire (lame Twilight reference, my apologies :)) I'm happy about recovering sensation, but man, it hurts like shit the whole way.

I just found out today I have to have RAI again too in a few months. I just said 'shit'. I like my endo, he's not offended by my swearing.

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Wow - super nerves! So maybe the agony will be worth it in the end (unless you do turn into a vampire because that would kind of suck, pardon the pun.) You might get feeling back while those of us with "weak" nerves stay numb. And your opinion of the RAI is the same as mine. I will get that same news in a few weeks. My hope is I can wait to do it at a more convenient time but the surgeon said the labs will determine when it needs to be done, not my schedule! I hope you're feeling a bit better.

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My doctor tried e on nerve medicine for the burning sensation. Ask for a topical lidocaine gel and maybe the oral nerve meds. Can't hurt to ask. I found the oral nerve meds worked for me for about a week. As more of the area began regenerating the meds didnt keep up and I didnt request a dose increase. But i did get some relief.

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