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Keywords:

  • accessory nerve;
  • physiotherapy;
  • neck dissection;
  • shoulder pain/dysfunction

Abstract

Background:

Neck dissection is an operation that can result in accessory nerve injury. Accessory nerve shoulder dysfunction (ANSD) describes the pain and impaired range of motion that may occur following neck dissection. The aim of this review was to establish the level of evidence for the effectiveness of physiotherapy in the postoperative management of ANSD.

Methods:

A literature search of physiotherapy and ANSD using Medline, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), and Cochrane Library databases was undertaken.

Results:

Physiotherapy has been shown to be well tolerated in this patient group following surgery. However, few studies exist as to the effect of physiotherapy on ANSD.

Conclusions:

There is a need for research to investigate the effects of early, appropriate physiotherapy on the development of ANSD following neck dissection surgery. Such a study has the potential to improve the functional outcome and quality of life in this patient group, and ultimately to promote best practice guidelines for management. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2011