Lymphedema can be caused by cancer treatments that remove or damage your lymph nodes. Any type of problem that blocks the drainage of lymph fluid can cause lymphedema. If you’ve dealt with cancer in the head and neck area and have recovered, there may be some lingering effects, such as pain and swelling. While uncomfortable, there are ways to manage these symptoms. Take a look at these various ways to manage pain
Get professional treatment
In some cases, head and neck cancer may result in painful swelling in the neck region and tongue, and other areas of your mouth. In these cases, your speech could be affected. You’ll want to consider working with a speech-language pathologist if this happens.
Physical therapy for your head and neck lymphedema can help you keep the lymphatic fluid to reduce swelling and subsequently pain. Some pneumatic pumps can be used but speak to your doctor about using them for head and neck swelling.
Don’t wear tight scarves or clothing
Tight clothes can cause more swelling and be uncomfortable for anyone who’s dealing with lymphedema in the neck and head. From turtlenecks to shirts with a tight neckline, there are many items you may typically wear that you’ll want to avoid if you have lymphedema swelling.
The same is true with restrictive jewelry. Keep in mind that while many people use compression gear for their lymphedema swelling, it is not recommended to use compression gear around the neck for given reasons. Therefore, it is best to wear loose-fit clothing with wider neck areas and long dainty jewelry.
Sleep with your head elevated
Anyone with head and neck lymphedema knows that the mornings can be difficult and most painful. Sleeping with your head elevated can help to keep lymphatic fluid draining at night so that you can avoid build-up in the mornings.
Beds that can provide some type of adaptive function can help you get the perfect elevation that is comfortable yet supportive for your needs. However, these kinds of beds can be a bit pricey, so consider a pillow that can help provide the same benefits.
Weight gain isn’t significant for those who suffer from lymphedema pain and swelling. For this reason, it’s important to stay active and, if needed, practice some weight loss routine if you are carrying some extra pounds at this time. Keep in mind that intense exercises are not recommended if you have lymphedema so keep your routine as moderate as possible.
Along the same lines, eating anti-inflammatory foods can be especially beneficial in reducing swelling and staying healthy. Whether you set up a meal plan online that provides you with the foods that are good for you or shop at your local grocery store, just make sure you include greens, fruits, fish, ginger, etc., in your diet.
Avoid extreme temperatures
Because a temperature change can affect your blood flow, you must do your best to avoid sudden and intense temperature changes. For example, high-intensity workouts are probably not the best for you, hot baths are also not a good idea, and ice baths are a definite no.
While you may have loved your scalding hot baths back in the day, warm baths will have to suffice after having head and neck cancer. This is something to keep in mind if you live in a region that can get very hot in the summer or very cold in the winter.
From getting treatment with your medical provider to eating anti-inflammatory foods at home, there are ways to manage the pain accompanying lymphedema swelling. Speak with your doctor about the best option for you and your specific health needs, so you can stay healthy and pain free.
If you have any questions or concerns, always talk to your GP
This is a guest post. Alycia Coloma is a mother to four beautiful girls and loves to craft DIY projects in her spare time. She enjoys finding new ways to work with tight budgets and spreading her knowledge to parents everywhere. Alycia is a staunch advocate of continuing education and believes that insatiable hunger for knowledge is the key to better finances, a warm family, and fulfilling life as a whole. She’s also a kitchen connoisseur on the side and has been known to whip up some mean empanadas.