What massage is best after head & neck cancer treatment?

Jan 15, 2023

What massage will help me after treatment?

A physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist or licensed massage therapist play an integral part of your recovery following head and neck cancer treatment. 

There are different types of massage techniques that may be utilized during your recovery. These can include:

1. Myofascial release

2. Manual lymphatic drainage 

3. Intraoral massage may be incorporated to aid in release of the muscles of the jaw

Massages combined with exercises will be the most ideal treatment for your recovery. A physical therapist or speech pathologist can guide you on exercises for the neck. 

What happens to my muscles? 

There is a process that will begin within 3-6 months of completing radiation therapy called radiation fibrosis syndrome. This process results in changes within muscular make up at the cellular level. These changes include increased fibrin within the tissue composite or make up. Fibrin a protein it is responsible to help in process of blood clotting. When radiation is introduced to the body tissues are damaged. 

Fibrin is a protein that plays a crucial role in the process of blood clotting. In radiation fibrosis syndrome, fibrin is present in the formation of fibrous tissue. This fibrous tissue forms in the area that has been exposed to radiation, causing the tissue to become thickened and stiff. The fibrous tissue can also cause the blood vessels in the area to become constricted, which can lead to decreased blood flow and oxygen to the tissue. This can cause pain, stiffness and limited range of motion in the affected area. The formation of fibrous tissue and fibrin is thought to be a result of the body's response to the damage caused by radiation therapy.

If you have questions regarding radiation fibrosis syndrome. Discuss with your physician a referral to a trusted therapist who addresses this complex progressive diagnosis and muscle hardening. 

Bonus: If you love massage and oils consider utilizing Coconut Oil for Massage!

Author: Lauren Meffen, MA CCC/SLP, CLT 

Speech Language Pathologist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist

SA9770 License Number