View Full Version : Swallowing and Talking difficulties

04-20-2007, 10:11 AM
Hi all,

I posted once before about the dsphagia problem and sure enough that's what my dr. said is going on now with my TOS. It got so bad that I almost went to the ER because I was hyperventilating. I managed to get that undercontrol psychologically but physically this swallowing issue is getting worse. Now I have to stop talking because not only the swallowing is difficult, but the muscle seems so tired and full of spasms that it hurts to talk. These sypmtoms come and go but are worse toward the end of the day. My GP says that I'm having muscle spasms in the throat. I'm not real clear on the anatomy but the spasms I really feel are on my left side in the TO area. Had an upper GI and awaiting results. My GP says not to worry that my throat won't close up, but this is really getting concerning.

Anyone else have the same problems or have some suggestions?:confused:

Thank you and hope that some of you are finding pain relief today. :)

04-20-2007, 10:44 AM
I also have swallowing problems. I don't think one day goes by that I swallow something and it seems to get stuck in my throat. I end up trying to clear it out before I start to choke on it and I always try to keep a glass of water close by. It doesn't matter whether I cut a smaller piece of food or chew it 100 times. Even swallowing pills has become difficult for me lately. My throat just seems to have a week feeling to it.
I am 3 months post op from a right brachial plexus/neuroplasty re do and the swallowing is becoming worse. It feels to me as though I don't have enough muscle strength in my throat to move anything down.
I have an appt with my Dr on Tuesday. I'll bring it up and see what they have to say.
It's not the problem that your throat will close up, the problem is choking on something and not having someone around to help us out.
Take care and wishing you a low pain or even better a pain free day.
Hugs :hug:

04-20-2007, 11:51 AM
I had it before at my bad times- and occasionally still if I get tight or mini spams in the neck area.

I found a few things that might explain it -
[As the head and neck are brought forward, the patient is forced to extend the occiput to keep the eyes horizontal, resulting in overactivity of the suboccipital muscles. With the head in a forward position, a passive tensile force is created in the hyoid muscles resulting in hyoid muscle tension, causing the mandible to be depressed and translated posteriorly. The patient is therefore forced to contract the temporalis and masseter muscles to keep the mouth closed.

This abnormal mandibular positioning can cause myofascial stress to the masseter and temporalis and temporomandibular problems. Porterfield and DeRosa1 state that symptoms such as excessive dry mouth due to mouth breathing, dysphagia, suboccipital headaches, teeth clenching, pain in the head and face over the temporalis area, and tightness over the throat region may occur.]
from - http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/17/18/06.html

and [The pain referral pattern of the SCM includes pain over the cheekbone, in the forehead, on top of the head, in and behind the ear, over the chin, over the SC joint, over the forehead, and deep in the throat.3 The throat referral is a commonly overlooked cause of sore throat, often mistaken for pharyngitis. The patient will often feel a fullness in the throat, especially upon swallowing, which feels like a partial obstruction. The forehead referral pattern is one of the very few instances, if not the only instance, where referred pain can cross the midline, as the pain is frequently felt in the contralateral forehead area in a patient suffering from a TP in the clavicular division of the SCM.]
from - http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/09/08/15.html

A link to that whole thread-

useful links thread-

check into the triggerpoint links and find a way to reduce those and any muscle spasms

04-20-2007, 02:07 PM
I have had the same thing in the neck area and around the throat and chin. I think mine is mostly spasms in the muscles when they get irritated or catch on the cervical ribs I have. Its annoying and sometimes painful. Mostly to get it to stop a little stretching or a muscle relaxer. Strange thing is my cervical ribs are floaters which means they aren't actually conected to the spine...weird as it sounds...I've seen the x-rays..and they catch in the muscles in the neck and create the spasms...sometimes I get the swallowing problems and it feels like I'm being poked in the throat. So I know the feeling, may not be the same anatomy and physically as everyone else, but I know the feeling.
Also been getting extreme pain in the chest and right above the breast area...more sore muscles.
Hope this advice helps. At least I don't feel weird, knowing I am not the only one getting it.

04-20-2007, 02:26 PM
Are they looking into removing your floating cervie ribs??
Have they bothered you all your life or just at times?
sorry I am full of questions sometimes LOL

04-20-2007, 09:46 PM
:confused: wow, I had no idea the cervical ribs could float around. I have bilateral TOS so they removed my left cervical rib, but I didn't do the other side. Oddly enough my left (with rib removed) is the side causing the throat problems...or at least that's where the muscles spasms are felt. I, too, have the pain above my breast in the chest area on the left sometimes. My jaw and tongue are bothering me too, but not as bad as the throat.

So it seems as thought some of you have had the surgery and others haven't. Those of you who have had surgery, did the throat issue come on before or after or both?

Do you know if this is a progression of the TOS?

Thanks for all the help

04-21-2007, 07:47 AM
I had surgery on my right side to remove the rib and have had 3 inches of muscle out from under my left arm to help with chest pain.

I had the swallowing problems and the breathing problems at one time. I spent 3+ years in PT and it did help with some of the issues. If you are In PT you might ask them to take their thumbs and stretch the neck muscles. My PTer would put her thumbs together on my neck the opposite way and move them apart and stretch the muscles. It's a deep massage. It did help.

There were a lot of my symptoms that stuck with me until I had the surgery. Mainly the pain. I have noticed a lot of people on here have to still have surgery after PT. It's not always the case but a lot of times.

After 3 years of pain, I just told my PCP I needed to have the surgery and he finally relented and helped me pick the Dr. to do it. At the time I would have let them cut my arm off and he was afraid that I would let them. My depression got so bad with the TOS that I just couldn't think straight.

I'm doing great now. Even though I have RSD I am doing things I honestly though for about 8 years I would never do again. I lift weights, I do antiquing again, I know I won't ever go back to work due to the other problems I have but I am soooooo much better with the TOS. As a matter of fact, I forget I have it these days.


04-21-2007, 08:08 AM
I've had problems with my cervical ribs all my life. But they got the worst after I had my car accident about 11 years ago. And things just have gotten progressively worse since them.
So far no one has offered to do the surgery because mine are supposedly so complicated and I have a very high risk of being paralized from the neck down.
I'm in Houston and had a doctor want to recommend me to a surgeon in Dallas, but untill I get my disability I can't seek out that route.
So currently I just deal with the pain, take a bunch of meds and work thru the day.
Lately though the worst part is the chest pain, rib pain and not being able to get deep enough breaths. :(

07-28-2007, 08:09 PM
bump for beth re: swallowing

07-29-2007, 01:44 PM
I have problems talking now, I cannot talk as much, my family thinks it's good LOL but seriously I am finding I have to breath with my stomach now not my chest sice surgery, alot of mine I am finding out is that besides the whole surgery for TOS is the symphatic nerve MAN it controls alot, mine was cut as alot of you know so my breathing is worse and I get short winded alot I dont know if it helps sorry

07-29-2007, 06:19 PM
Flip, I have a friend from the way old days of the forum that actually lost her voice from TOS. No real answer that I recall why, But she had a clean up re-do for adhesions and free area up and got her voice back.

07-29-2007, 08:35 PM
had a real issue swallowing, coughing and the muscles tightening since my injury and worse since surgery
the defense just laughs at me like i'm hypochondriac

07-29-2007, 08:47 PM
50% of society has short fibrous bands that hold/support the head to neck...they attach to the collar bone. If there is a TOS injury, and spams happen, all the nearby structures get caught in these spasms. I remember De's surgery; doctor togut found a band in the armpit, he snipped it and it snaked up into the body. He did not see it again until he did the part of the surgery at the collar bone. Then eh located it at the collar bone. it was only 1 1/2 inches long...s.tretched all the way to the arm pit. So them the spams, nerve inflamation, scar matter, all around areas that we use to cough (pherneic nerve) and who can tell what swallow muscles.

Just thinking outloud

07-29-2007, 10:20 PM
Wow i was just going to post about this... I am having a very hard time swallowing and talking... I sound like a chipmunk... i am not sure if this is in relation to the tos or the RSD....

It hurts really bad.... :confused:

07-30-2007, 03:58 PM
OK freaking out, so I may lose it :( I will stay + not - oh I hate this, no more surgeries is all I want. You all are the BEST I also have a tuff time swallowing my pills too.

07-30-2007, 04:56 PM
I'm not sure where the thread is for Carol. but see her website. regarding VCD. I have heard from a MD that there is a corellation between RSIs and the swallowing problem but I don't know if it is strictly VCD. I do know that when some people with RSI learn to use voice activated software, they may develop a diff kind of RSI in the throat area. Working with a speech therapist that specializes in this can sometimes help.


by Carol Sidofsky"

07-31-2007, 10:39 AM
My swallowing problems aren't as severe as most of you guys that posted. However, I have noticed. I have had more occasions of choking and hoarseness since my car accident in 2001 (the likely culprit of my TOS). I received my official TOS diagnosis this past December, and in March, I was diagnosed with asthma. I don't know if any of this is related, but it's interesting that many of us have had breathing/swallowing/talking problems...

Try to stay positive, and I hope you find some answers soon.

07-31-2007, 05:33 PM
I just want to throw this out there for anybody who has a problem with hoarseness, you might want to get your thyroid checked and also if it doesn't go away, maybe see an EN & T dr. I had hoarseness that lasted for quite a long time and my PM dr. referred me to an EN & T and I had a benign growth on my vocal cords which he removed.

08-01-2007, 07:06 PM
Wow, it seems like a LOT of us have swallowing problems! I thought maybe I was just being paranoid! I, too, have swallowing problems, especially if I am trying to swallow while my head is turned. It is to the point that I am careful about what I eat when I am home alone. I can just picture myself choking on something and having to run out of the house and bang on doors to find someone to give me the Heimlich maneuver!! I even bought soft, chewable vitamins. If I have to take a pill, I just use a pill splitter to cut them in half, and then maybe even bite them in half again, taking them in one little piece at a time. Some pills are not supposed to be split, though, so be sure and check. I did have surgery, not a rib section, and it did help somewhat with the choking, swallowing problem.

Monilynne - You might have been referred to the guy who did my surgery. Is it Dr. Orenstein in Dallas? He does a different kind of surgery. Dr O. goes in and tries to make room around the nerves in the brachial plexis. He may cut out some muscle in your neck, wrap fat around the nerves, etc.. His idea is that it makes a little more room so that the nerves can function a little better. He may pull out trigger points in your arms, back. Before I had surgery, the pain was so bad that I was feeling pretty desperate. Extremely depressed. Willing to do ANYTHING to get some kind of relief from the pain. Post surgery, somewhat better. I was not able to resume my normal life, but it is better than it was. I have some good days now!

08-02-2007, 11:19 AM
Somehow, I missed this thread before..... About the time that this was posted, I got what i call a charlie horse "under" my tongue (that part of your neck under your tongue)... the muscle knotted up, neck and voicebox got all sort of tight. Of course, my mouth was full of food. I'd never thought about the swallowing being related to TOS, but I know for sure that its been harder to swallow over the last year- I find myself taking sips of water after I have a bite of something so that I can swallow.

Karen- I'm not a doctor, but if you do choke when you're home by yourself, you should know the "self"- Heimlich (I am NOT a Doctor tho) using either your hands or the back of a chair or something similar.

08-03-2007, 08:49 PM
Here's a link to an article on WebMD describing the problem and possible treatments - does sound like it's recognized as accompanying neurological disorders, which means US. Lists a variety of treatments, including exercises to train the muscles - sadly these are not explained. But DO mention it to your Dr! I confess, I saw mine this week, and forgot to mention it :o Think I will give the nurse a call Monday as the last choking incident occurred while drinking a Pepsi behind the wheel - alone - very scary, but I did get my breath back fairly quickly that time. Hurt like hello, though. The anti-inflammatory is not doing much for me either - chest is still tight and hard to get a good breath. Ribs are v. sore to touch on left, has always been the right side before when costochondritis flares up. :(