Pain w/ Singing

I have pain that feels like swallowing glass when I sing and I can also feel my muscles tensing up. I’m wondering if any of you have this sensation with singing. It doesn’t happen when I’m talking. My regular CT scan showed calcified left stylohyoid ligament. Another doctor said it was elongated but we didn’t get into measurements. I was also diagnosed with Cricoarytenoid Joint Arthritis based on exam and my history of autoimmune/autoinflammatory arthritis. We have not pursued surgery because I’m not a good surgical candidate. I’m not sure what else can be done. I have other issues that are also possibly related to Eagle Syndrome. (Neck pain/stiffness, POTS, etc.) Has anyone worked with a speech pathologist/voice specialist/ENT for the sensation of swallowing glass with singing? Thanks! (I also had my thyroid removed and had thyroid cancer, but no recurrence, and the Eagle Syndrome plus symptoms were there prior to thyroidectomy, so we can’t blame it on that.)

Still grinning!

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I’m so sorry for the pain you’re having when you sing @WillisWay. the cricoarytenoid joint arthritis sounds really awful! It’s very tough that you can’t have surgery to remove your styloids as I’m sure they’re contributing to the pain & having them gone would at least help alleviate your throat pain, neck stiffness & possibly POTS.

I’ve read that a thyroidectomy often affects the voice/vocal cords & assume that’s most likely because the vagus nerve runs through the area near the thyroid & is irritated during its removal. The changes can be temporary or permanent. Did you experience a change in voice quality (hoarseness/raspiness) or tone (higher or lower pitched) after your thyroidectomy?

We had a member who had a thyroidectomy concurrent w/ ES surgery & is dealing w/ vocal changes from that, however, I don’t believe she’s a singer. I think she’s beginning to see a speech pathologist to help w/ recovery.

Thank you! Yes, I lost an entire octave (8 notes) of my singing voice range after the thyroidectomy. But they say my vocal cords are moving correctly (not paralyzed) so it’s just a loss of range. I haven’t had my throat evaluated in quite a few years now and have been wondering if there’s more that can be done to alleviate the pain that comes from singing by learning different form or having vocal exercises or something. I’ve discontinued singing as a soloist but I still sing at church and would love to not have that pain. I’m singing at about 20% due to the discomfort. It’s my guess that since the singing pain started 4 years prior to the thyroidectomy, it is from the Eagles and maybe from the cricoarytenoid joint arthritis. (But the loss of vocal range was definitely due to the thyroidectomy.)

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So sorry that you’ve had to limit your singing because of the pain, that’s rough :hugs:
We’ve had a few discussions on here from singers who have had ES & have had to give up because of the pain, but from what I can remember they’ve all had surgery which has helped. So frustrating that you can’t have surgery :hugs: :pray:

@WillisWay - I’m not a singer per se, but prior to my first ES surgery I started having a problem singing in church & expected it was related to ES. Mine is more an issue of muscle tension i.e. I feel like my throat & upper esophagus & some of my jaw muscles clamp down after I’ve sung a couple of worship songs. It actually becomes painful to sing (not in the same way it is for you). I’ve found singing an octave lower than my natural singing voice helps alleviate that. I will say I was disappointed when that problem didn’t change after I had my surgeries.

I’ve taken to singing an octave lower as well. Plus I focus on not pushing and not putting much volume into it. But after a song, I’m still experiencing that muscle tightening that you mention. I haven’t paid attention if the sensation of swallowing glass happens first or the muscle tension. You actually made me feel better (sorry to say) that your discomfort did not improve after surgery because that way I can not be sad that I can’t have surgery. (But I’m sad for you that it didn’t improve!) It’s not a sure thing surgery would make things better for me, so in a way it makes things a little easier to accept. (God’s been giving me lots of lessons in how good life can be “broken” when it can be about others). I’m learning with all my health issues, that often adaption is the name of the game rather than correcting the problem!


What a great post, @WillisWay! It’s always enlightening when we see things from God’s point of view. The benefits are astounding & help us to be at peace instead of in a state of agitation because we can’t change the way things are. I’m sure @JustBreathe would agree whole-heartedly with your last sentence.


What a positive attitude you have, so glad that your faith is keeping you strong :hugs:

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There is a center here in NYC that specializes in singers. I saw a speech therapist there. If your insurance would cover an out-of-state speech therapist, I’m happy to share more about my experience.