Question for people with pain while swallowing

I’ve recently gotten sharp pain in the back of my throat on the left side while swallowing any food that is remotely solid. So I’ve been living off of mushy foods/soups for a while and definitely feel like it is weighing on me being not able to intake enough food/get a good balance of nutrition.

Did anyone else have this problem and was there ever a work around prior to surgery? I’ve been taking pain killers like Tylenol but I don’t know if theres any other treatments people have tried to make it less painful/easier to swallow. Is muscle relaxers a thing?

Some of our members have taken Flexeril (muscle relaxer) to help ease ES symptoms prior to surgery. It is an Rx & might help. You could also try icing your neck or sucking on ice cubes prior to eating to see if numbing your throat a bit w/ the cold helps keep symptoms at bay.

An option for eating a more well balanced diet is to either make yourself a meal & put it in the blender w/ some milk, water or broth & blend it up & drink it or make a soup w/ protein & veggies & blend or eat it. Keeping adequate fat in your diet will help you feel more satisfied & energetic so try sautéing veggies/meat in olive or avocado oil to cook them. I had to do that for several weeks after my first ES surgery because of a sore throat & jaw. As I’ve told others. The resultant smoothie looks awful but tastes like dinner. :rofl:

Another approach is to make yourself a “green smoothie” adding leafy greens of any variety you like (thinking outside of the box, this could include beet, carrot, radish tops, bok choi, etc), cucumbers, carrots, avocado, cooked cauliflower, broccoli, the sky’s the limit. Also add some fruit, apple, banana, berries, peach, or pear, etc. & some neutral flavored protein powder (unflavored or vanilla), sweetened or unsweetened, or yogurt, liquid of your choice (milk, water but probably not broth if you’ve added fruit), & blend. You can chia seeds, flax seeds, help seeds, or nut butter, too, for good fats that will help give you energy. Making a green smoothie w/ flavors to your liking can take some experimenting. I’d start w/ basic ingredients you know you like, & over time, add more things you like till you get the perfect flavor mix for you. Nut butter or avocado will help make the smoothie creamier.

Let us know if you try any of these suggestions (no offense taken if you don’t) & what works best for you. :blush:


I was very lucky & never had the pain swallowing, but it was difficult to chew after surgery so did have smoothies & soft foods for a couple of weeks. My favourite was pineapple juice, spinach, banana & yoghurt, & as @Isaiah_40_31 says, you can add protein powder too…
The pain swallowing isn’t necessarily because the styloid is poking into your throat, it can be because it’s irritating nerves in that area, in which case perhaps one of the nerve pain meds might help, like Gabapentin, Lyrica, Amitriptyline, carbamazepine…


Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve ended up trying some smoothie combinations that have worked for me (bananas + frozen berries + spinach/kale + almond milk + water) and it works fine. Definitely still hard to keep full but I’ve also been boiling a lot of foods to make them a lot more mushy to eat (broccoli works great for me to get veggies into my system). I’ll try blending some meats next week as well as see how that goes.

Also a note, I’ve tried Huel for the past week (nutritional meal replacement) and it has been so useful for me and would recommend anyone who has trouble swallowing to try out. Makes it a lot easier to get in nutrients and calories in and can be relatively cheap compared to eating out. Wouldn’t recommend substituting every meal though with this drink.

I see dr. Samji in 2 weeks so I can ask what he thinks of my swallowing pain then

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Glad you’ve found some food options that are working better. The only comment I have (& maybe you’re doing this already) is add some fat & protein to your smoothies. The ingredients you listed are mostly carbs which digest & get into your blood stream quickly. The fat can be in the form of ground flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds (also provide protein), nut butter/avocado (makes the smoothie creamier) or by adding a TBSP of olive oil, MCT oil or nut oil. The fat (& protein) help your body digest the smoothie more slowly & thus it will help you stay full longer & feel more satisfied.

I’m glad you’re seeing Dr. Samji soon. Please let us know what he says.


Adding proteins to my smoothies have definitely helped, I feel more energized as of late.

I saw Dr. Samji today, part of me was hoping he would have some sort of diagnosis that pointed to something other than Eagles Syndrome, but he told me that most of my symptoms seem to align with his other patients and would be fine doing the surgery for me (right side first).

The biggest worry is that he mentioned I would be the youngest he has ever done ES surgery on (by at least 4 years) and said that usually 25 is when my skull is fully developed so he is not sure if this will change the surgery in a way he isn’t used to. Hopefully not. He prescribed me gabapentin so I will be trying that for 4-6 weeks as I decide on surgery, but I do feel like I’m running out of options.


@syrup do you have military neck aka loss of cervical lordosis aka straight neck?

hmm I don’t think I have this, never was brought up to me

You might want to check your x-rays/CT scans. If you have it, there might be possibility that symptoms are caused not by the elongated styloid processes themselves but because of the various compressions between the styloid processes and the cervical vertebrae that happen when your neck is out of alignment. Neck flexion/extension/neutral x-rays would show whether you have the military neck or not.

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I’m glad you’ve found a way to make smoothies that are satisfying & energizing. It’s tough enough not feeling good, but also having low energy because eating hurts so isn’t desirable just makes everything seem worse.

Dr. Samji did my surgeries. I had a great long term outcomes from both, but I was 58 at the time. I have great confidence in him as a surgeon.

We had one member who had ES surgery at age 12 & did have regrowth a couple of years later & had to have revision surgery but has been fine since his second round of surgeries. We also had a member who was 17, I think, when he had his surgery, but we haven’t heard from him to know how it went.


Praying that you make the right decision about surgery, hope that the Gabapentin works in the mean time :hugs: :pray:

Those proteins help! Sounds like you have a good regimen going. Keeping up the nutrition leading up to an operation will aid in the healing process. Sending prayers and healing energy!