A little-known inflammatory condition of the lateral thyrohyoid ligament and nearby tissues in the neck. The connective tissues in this area comprise in practical terms a floating “joint” that attaches the larynx to the hyoid bone. Inflammation of unknown cause can lead to a syndrome similar to tennis elbow, so that the point of attachment becomes chronically sore. Thyrohyoid syndrome is also known as hyoidynia, hyoid bursitis, or lateral thyrohyoid ligament syndrome. 1
A patient with this condition typically (but not always) has a history of placing stress on this connective tissue in his or her profession or activities—trumpet playing, for example. Diagnosis is confirmed with finger or thumb pressure to find a point of acute tenderness over the greater horn of the hyoid bone and sometimes the upper border of the thyroid cartilage.
The clinician may find it helpful also, by way of comparison, to apply gentle pressure on the submandibular gland or carotid artery so as to confirm that the point of tenderness is truly greatest at the lateral thyrohyoid ligament, hyoid bone, or thyroid cartilage.
Treatment of thyrohyoid syndrome is typically supportive and may include reduction of percussive or aggressive use of voice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or (by far most effective) an injection of 0.5 ml of Kenalog 40 mg per ml at the lateralmost point of the hyoid and upper border of the thyroid cartilage 2, requiring care and experience, as this is just anterior to the carotid artery.
This injection may cause soreness on top of the thyrohyoid syndrome pain for a day or two, followed by considerable, if not complete, relief for about three weeks. After this time, pain may return, though not usually to the original level. In some cases a single injection suffices; in others, a series of three injections, performed three or four weeks apart, is more effective.
Hyoidynia | A Toothache in the Neck
A specific source of pain in the neck can worry and bother and elude diagnosis: hyoidynia. Dr. Bastian explains this little-known “toothache in the neck” disorder, and options for its treatment.
- Sinha P, Grindler DJ, Haughey BH. A pain in the neck: lateral thyrohyoid ligament syndrome. Laryngoscope. 2014;124(1):116-8.
- Kunjur J, Brennan PA, Ilankovan V. The use of triamcinolone in thyrohyoid syndrome. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 2002;40:450-451.