Effectiveness of Oncological Physiotherapy on Painful Shoulder Cervical Ganglion in Head and Neck Cancer


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Objective: To estimate whether oncological physiotherapy treatment with neurodynamic and kinesitherapy (passive and active) in patients with "painful shoulder due to accessory spinal nerve dissection" operated on for head and neck cancer is more effective than standard therapeutic exercise therapy with strength.

Design: Randomized Clinical Trial (intervention study, no drugs). Two branches of rehabilitative treatment applied by oncological physiotherapist.

GROUP I: Treatment of passive and active mobilizations together with neurodynamics techniques.

GROUP II (or control group) Current treatment applied as gold standard, consisting of therapeutic strength exercise, which the patient will carry out under the supervision of the physiotherapist.

The frequency of both will be twice a week for two months.

Study subjects: Participants who underwent cervical ganglion dissection surgery for head and neck cancer, and who have, as a surgical sequela, a painful shoulder due to accessory spinal nerve injury.

Determinations: At baseline (t0), at one month (t1m) and at the end (t6m) will be measured, (1) the degree of pain of the participants through the pain scale (EVA), (2) the functionality of the shoulder, with the DASH scale and goniometry, (3) the quality of life with the QLQ H&N35 questionnaire, (4) the strength with a hand dynamometer and (5) the degree of neurodynamics of the accessory spinal nerve with the neurodynamic test for this nerve.

Study Overview

Start Date
November 15, 2022
Completion Date
June 15, 2024
Date Posted
November 3, 2022
Accepts Healthy Volunteers?


Full Address
Centro Investigación Fisioterapia y Dolor
Alcalá De Henares, Madrid 28805, Spain

Physiotherapy and Pain Institute
Alcalá de Henares, Madrid 28805, Spain


Minimum Age (years)
Maximum Age (years)
Eligibility Criteria
Inclusion Criteria:

Patients with cancer located in the head and neck.
Different types of cancer, undergoing cervical lymph node dissection between levels II and V, with pain and/or functional impotence in the shoulder.

Exclusion Criteria:

Patients with bone metastases
Patients with functional limitations in the shoulder prior to surgery or that can be demonstrated to be due to other causes.
Patients who are minors
Incident cases of painful shoulder in patients with
Cervical level I lymph node dissection

Study Contact Info

Study Contact Name
Patricia Martinez-Merinero, PhD; Laura Cabellos; Patricia Martínez-Merinero, PhD; Patricia M Martinez-Merinero, PhD

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Detailed Description
Incident cases of painful shoulder due to accessory spinal nerve injury after cervical lymph node dissection in patients with head and neck cancer. Given that clinical data indicate that at least 60% of patients with cervical lymph node dissection have iatrogenic accessory spinal nerve damage, and that the sequelae significantly impair the patient's quality of life, an improvement in quality of life of up to 30% of the QLQ H&N35 score is considered to be significant.

Participants will be selected through the Spanish Association Against Cancer's needs assessment and first impact service, which receives patients from different hospitals. The investigators will make a first appointment with patients likely to be included in the study to check whether they meet the inclusion/exclusion criteria and collect the necessary data.

The investigators will then proceed to randomization to one of the treatment arms. The planned time for the application of the therapy is 2 months. During the course of the clinical trial the participants will attend treatment twice or once a week with a session duration of approximately 30 minutes.

Participants will be seen three times at the oncological physiotherapy service of the AECC during the course of the study [t0, t1 and 6tf]. A first one as mentioned above, an intermediate one after one month and a last one at the end of the clinical trial 2 months after inclusion.

At each of the 3 visits, data on the different variables will be collected: the VAS scale, the QLQ H&N35 quality of life questionnaire and the DASH questionnaire.
NCTid (if applicable)