Assessment of musculoskeletal impairment in head and neck cancer patients
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This study aims to describe the types of musculoskeletal impairment in head and neck cancer survivors and to evaluate objective and subjective measures of musculoskeletal impairment and identify areas of need in future studies.
This is a cross-sectional pilot study of 29 head and neck cancer patients who were treated with resection and reconstruction. Subjective measures of musculoskeletal impairment (Neck Disability Index, Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, Vanderbilt Head and Neck Symptom Survey, General Symptom Survey) were collected and compared to objective measures (Cervical Range of Motion Device, Inter-incisal Distance). Digital photography was used to assess the severity of postural abnormalities. Findings were summarized using descriptive statistical and graphical methods.
The majority of patients in this cohort suffered from neck disability (69%). Thirty-five percent of patients had shoulder pain and disability. Cervical range of motion deficits were observed in all directions. Inter-incisal distance averaged 33.4 mm and inversely correlated with self-reported jaw and trismus symptoms. Digital photography identified shoulder misalignment in 93% of subjects, head tilt in 89% of subjects, and postural deviation in 68% of subjects.
Musculoskeletal impairment is a significant side effect in head and neck cancer survivors that results in chronic neck pain, shoulder disability, trismus, and postural deficits. Tools to describe postural deficits are needed.
KeywordsMusculoskeletal impairment Shoulder dysfunction Cervical range of motion Trismus Posture Head and neck cancer
Compliance with ethical standards
Financial support or funding
This is study is supported by Pain and Symptom Management Ingram Foundation Funds.
Conflict of interest
All authors on this manuscript have no conflicts of interest to declare. We have access to all primary research data to share with reviewers if requested.
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