Severe Throat pain after surgery, maybe glossopharyngeal neuralgia, thoughts?

I am five weeks post op. Last week i wanted to see if I could sing. I tried, nothing too fancy not for more than a minute. When I went to my high range i had a horrible pain in my throat in the middle more on the right side and I think it is right above or at the top of where the thyroid would be. It was a very sharp stabbing almost like someone was ripping something in my throat out. I stopped singing and it went away. Today was a bad day and I started to cry and say something and the same pain happened again but more severe. This time I had about 3 episodes of it but that is probably because it made me cry and became worried that something is wrong with the vocal chords themselves. I drank about 3 glasses of water with a straw and this seemed to help. Does this sound like glossopharengeal neuralgia or some other nerve issue? Has anyone had this type of pain? Again it felt like someone was stabbing my throat and tearing something in there at the same time. I have my two month follow up with Dr late July, he has no appointments before then. Should I try and find another ENT to check things out or is this normal? Can you feel glossopharengeal neuralgia in the middle of the throat?

GPN is more at the back of the throat & ear I think. The Ben’s Friends facial pain group has info- you don’t have to join if you don’t want to, you can read the info, here’s a link:
Do you think maybe it could be a spasm or something otherwise in your throat? I don’t know, but it seems strange that it’s just happened when you’ve tried to sing or cried… It is still early days in terms of healing- some of the nerve issues I had took a year to heal properly.
Again, I don’t know, but I would guess another ENT wouldn’t want to interfere with a post-op problem, so it might be best to wait for the follow up you have booked.
Maybe you could try messaging another singer, MusicGeek maybe to ask about her post-op experience?

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I have noticed my voice has been weaker the last few days. I think maybe everything is flared up and it was a spasm or nerve issues of some sorts. It seems like everything has flared up today after the episode of voice pain, even my incision is hurting. I am going to ice and take it easy and hopefully get everything calmed down.

I’m not an expert or anything, but I think you’re still healing. I’d be more worried if you were experiencing the pain about a year post op.
Remain strong, and I wish you a speedy and pain free recovery.

Please be patient w/ your body. As Jules & Misskay said, you’re still healing. Nerves are very slow to recover. You’ve had major surgery & major injury to your throat area both from the styloid & from its removal. If you want to start strengthening that area, you could try gargling w/ cold water periodically on the right side (once your current situation settles down) &/or humming. These exercises will stimulate the muscles in your throat & perhaps promote nerve healing w/o putting the stress on your throat/vocal cords that singing does. I had injury from my first ES surgery to my hypoglossal nerve which affected my tongue & throat, & these therapies were recommended to me. I haven’t tried them consistently enough to tell if they’re helping, but it makes sense that they would.

I’m a singer and operated both my sides at once by internal surgery. I had difficulties singing in the beginning (first 2-3 months) because (as the doctor explained) they cut off a muscle connection. Maybe this is the same for you?
For me it got better and better after some time and nowadays I sing better than before. Wish you luck! Hugs from Sweden


Are you a diabetic? We heal VERY slowly…I had the same stabbing pain whenever I would over exert myself. You will have this unknown pain because you are probably still pretty raw in the back of your throat??? Take it slow and take it one day at a time. It took me a good. 4 months to start to feel better. I think you should forget about trying to sing right now. You might also later spook yourself if you swallow something and it scrapes on the side of your throat. It’s just us being over sensitive because we have had trauma with ES. Also, don’t go around like some people and go and over educate yourself on the Internet about all the possible symptoms you might have. You’ll just drive yourself crazy! Hang in there…

Been doing therapy & other stuff since Aug 24, 2017 – just went back to EMT that diagnosed me and he said "I hate to say this, but it will prob be 1 - 1 1/2 yrs before you get rid of that throat pain as you gotta figure that bone poked that tissue for almost 3 years and did damage to it.
They all say it is tissue damage now. I know talking a lot really hurts it!

They’ve tried a lot of stuff with me - but I still have some throat pain.
Sometimes a lot worse than others, but it is getting somewhat better.
I sure didn’t know it would take this long!! Like Jules told me up front when I joined this Eagles club - it might take 1 1/2 yrs and now that is what the Dr. just told me. So be kind to yourself!

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Also – I cannot drink “cold” drinks. A lady acupuncture Dr. on a cruise ship told me in Dec ( I was willing to try anything 3 months later as I was in so much pain and inflammation) - you have to get blood flow to that tissue to heal as it was severely damaged with the bone poking it for years and do not drink anything cold. Every Dr. around here has totally agreed with her diagnosis.
But they won’t do acupuncture here - just therapy, etc.
Fruit juices kill me! and chocolate hurts like crazy too. Not fun.
But I’ve learned to live with what I can do. Good luck to you!

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I have Trigeminal neuralgia, which is a cousin to Glossopharyngeal neuralgia… what you’re describing sounds like healing issues, not neuralgia.

In general Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is an irritation of the ninth cranial nerve causing extreme pain in the back of the throat, tongue and ear. Attacks of intense, electric shock-like pain can occur without warning or can be triggered by swallowing.

The shocks aren’t usually triggered by speaking or singing unless you’re already in a flare up, then speaking or singing can make it worse. And, with Glossopharyngeal neuralgia stopping the triggering action (such as you stopping singing) doesn’t stop the pain.

With this very general info and your very general info about pain when singing at a certain register I tend to say this is all healing, not a secondary condition. I’m thinking you need to soft peddle it a bit more, give yourself more time to heal.


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didixon ~ Based on your last paragraph it sounds like you might have First Bite Syndrome which is not uncommon after throat/neck surgeries. For some people it goes away w/in a few months of surgery & others it lingers but gets less intense over time. I had my first surgery in Nov. 2014 & ended up w/ FBS afterward. Mine has never totally gone away, but it’s much more tolerable than my ES symptoms, so I can live w/ it. Here’s an internet definition of FBS & you can Google it to get more information: What is first bite syndrome?
First bite syndrome is characterized as pain in the parotid (salivary gland) gland or lower jaw area (mandibular region) at the first bite and, subsequently improves with each bite. The cause is unclear but, may be related to nerve impairment from surgery or other conditions.


Thanks – I appreciate any help I can get. My pain never goes away with anything or with each bite. It doesn’t like eating, sleeping, or talking. Only thing that helps is not talking and being awake. Prob cause gets too dry sleeping at night. Just a constant pain like the eagles but not as bad. They say a tissue issue now due to the bone poking me for 3 years. And say it will get better. I have gotten better the last couple of months (9 months later) but it still hurts a lot and I won’t take pain pills. So am hoping they are right and after 1 to 1 1/2 years it will finally reattach the tissue and stop the pain. Thanks for your input - like I said – wiling to listen to anything that will help!

Interesting that you mentioned your pain getting worse when you sleep due to dry throat. I imagine talking might create the same situation. I have noticed my FBS is much worse when I’m dehydrated thus I try to consume 80-120 oz of fluid a day. I’m not a great fan of plain water so I drink lots of no caffeine herb tea. I saw that you mentioned you’d been in for therapy. What type of therapy have you had since your surgery & how much of the styloid did your surgeon remove? Did you have intraoral or external surgery?
I do believe your nerves/tissues will heal with time. I am still finding little improvements in my residual surgical pain even after 4 years.
I will pray for you to have complete recovery & be pain free.

If dryness overnight makes it worse, maybe you could try a humidifier to moisten the air at night?
Also MusicGeek had scar tissue problems & tried cold laser therapy to help with that- I don’t know if it might help you at all? Might be worth looking into…
Hope that things heal a bit quicker for you!

They did all kinds of therapy on me as the jaw was full of inflammation.
Did 10 weeks Feb- April. They did cold laser outside on jaw. They also tried cold laser in my mouth in Feb for 3 weeks a few times a week & I said thought that was hurting more than helping. Heard from Music Geek they are NOT to do laser in the mouth.
They did heat over the area and totally massaged and scraped the outside to try to break up tissue. All helped as I was in agony and right side of mouth and jaw looked like a stroke victim - I had no smile on thr right side where it was. I had oral surgery from inside of mouth - they “ground” it off. My ENT said reviewed my records and believes the other specialist Drs. got it all, but said it will
prob take 1 - 1/2 yrs to heal the tissue that was damaged from the bone poking it.
I still have A LOT of pain. And seems like gets worse before better.
I wouldn’t wish this on anyone! Good luck to all.

Since you’re still having so much pain, it might be worth it to get a follow up CT scan to verify that the surgeon did “get it all”. Even when there’s severe tissue & nerve damage, this far after the surgery, there’s usually some improvement from the pre-surgical pain. Your situation sounds like you really haven’t seen any change since surgery.

didixion, sorry to hear your in so much pain. There are two things that helped me with my pain before and after surgery. I cannot tolerate medicine so I have been taking CBD oil. It doesn’t work miracles on me some people it does but I feel like it takes the edge off my pain and I think it has helped me heal. It is really great with inflammation and I have read it helps people with nerve pain. I can give you more info if you want just message me because there is a lot of bad quality CBD oil out there. Also I found myofascial release also helped with the pain. When there is nerve pain the other muscles can freak out and cause even more pain. I found that going to a myofascial therapist helped settle down the muscles affected by all the pain. Again neither of these two cured my pain but they did make it a lot more tolerable.

Glad that you’ve found a couple of things to help a bit…

Great advice! Thank you for sharing.