How long for throat symptoms to fade after external styloidectomy?

Hi all,

So glad to have found this forum today and reading all your stories. It really helps seeing other people dealing with these horrible symptoms which might eventually fade after surgery.

Today I had a styloidectomy on my right side after supected ES. My main symtom is terrible throat pain for 2 years now and I have some other “mild” symptoms possibly relatws to ES which are uncomfortable but I could live with these. The throat pain however is impossible to ignore and really diminshing my quality of life.

My ENT surgeon did a great job this morning (European time) with the external styloidectomy. No complications whatsoever and the styloid is fully extracted (app. 4,5 cm). In addition, the incision pain is well managed with tylenol only. Pain might increase in the next couple of does when the wound starts really healing however so far so good.

My main concern is that the throat pain hasn’t getting any better. I know it’s only day one but my surgeon immediately asked whether the pain was different (less)than before. Since the surgery was via the external way, the throat itself is not harmed, so when you take away the poking bone, pain should lessen right? He also told me before the surgery that there was a chance that the styloidectomy wouldn’t be an end to the pain, since there are also people with elongated/calcified styloids without symptoms.

At the moment I’m feeling a bit down and worried that the pain hasn’t lessened yet (and the surgery might not have worked), especially with my surgeon asking if the pain was different than before. I was reading through the other stories but was unable to find much cases with solely main symptom throat pain and styliidectomy via the external way.
So for the people that got a styloidectomy externally and had throat pain before:

Was it immediately gone/less?
If no, how long did it take to see improvements?

I would really appreciate if you could share your experiences. Especially since there is so little to find online on ES and the recovery process.

Hi @markh - Welcome to our forum. I’m glad you’re here.

Recovery from ES surgery is not quick. Most of us don’t have immediate pain or symptoms relief as soon as surgery is over because the nerves that have been irritated/damaged by an elongated styloid need time to heal. Nerve healing is slow and can take from several weeks to a number of months, even up to a year after surgery. Throat pain after surgery is often due to the breathing tube that is placed in the throat to help with breathing while you’re under anesthesia, and since your main ES symptom was a sore throat, the breathing tube may have made it worse. The pain from the breathing tube can last for several days to a week after surgery.

I don’t know how much you’ve read on our forum, but days 3-5 after surgery are when your swelling will be the worst so it’s important to stay on a schedule with the Tylenol. Sleeping with your head elevated (30º) plus using ice packs on your neck (15 min. on & 45 min off) can help a lot w/ reducing swelling after surgery. Make sure to put a cloth between your skin & the ice. Some doctors prescribe a course of prednisone for the first 10-14 days after surgery which also helps reduce pain and swelling. I found this very helpful during my recovery.

If you were diagnosed with bilateral styloid elongation, you may need to get your other styloid removed for all your throat pain to go away. It will take 4 - 6 months after the surgery you just had for you to know how much the surgery helped you.

Please don’t be discouraged. You’re very early in your recovery. :hugs:

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Many thanks for your encouraging words and lot of advice for the recovery! It really helps to calm me down and to just wait. Mentally it can be a real battle sometimes so it really helps.

In terms of recovery, my doc wants to see me in 2 weeks and according to him we then know whether the surgery worked or not. However reading this forum (including your answer) it can take a long time for the pain to subside. So I will have to be patient. In terms the left side, I do have a bit of throat pain on that side, but the styloid is only 3,2 cm long (and not calcified) ,so my doc does not think that it could cause many issues. I hope the right side pain subsides and then see how much is left from the left side to decide whether to operate that side as well.

Also thanks for your tips on sleeping on a 30 incline and the cooling with ice! Doc didn’t mentioned that but I will use it.

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Hi & welcome to the site!
I second what @Isaiah_40_31 says; we do occasionally find people’s pain or other symptoms go immediately after surgery, but I would say for the majority it takes a while. The feeling of something poking your throat isn’t usually the actual styloid poking in it, but usually a sensation caused by a nerve being irritated by the styloid process, so that will take time to heal and settle down. Usually you would have been intubated during the surgery, so that sometimes causes throat pain initially too.
Take care of yourself, it’s easy sometimes to overdo things if you’re not in too much pain & that can cause setbacks!
Best wishes!

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