Background: Patients who have undergone head and neck cancer treatment, often develop post-treatment associated muscle damage. The resulting muscle damage has a long lasting effect on range of motion (ROM) and swallow dysfunction. This is a common early and late sequela following either surgery-based or radiation-based therapy for head and neck cancer (HNC). The treatment related toxicity is strongly correlated with reduced quality of life.

Myofascial release (MFR) therapy is an accepted treatment modality by physical therapists and speech language pathologists used to 1) reduce symptoms of hypertonicity, and 2) improve ROM after an injury. Following injury, muscle and surrounding tissues, including fascial tissue overlying the muscle, may contract and tighten as a part of the healing process. This tightening of the muscle and fascial tissues often results in muscle tightness, a decrease in ROM, and pain during activity. MFR is a form of deep tissue massage used to soften, stretch, and “release” areas of tightness (trigger points) in the myofascial region.

Objectives: The purpose of this prospective pilot study is to evaluate the use of myofascial release techniques on the muscles of the head and neck following surgery and/or radiation treatment for head and neck cancer.