Dysphonia refers to any disorder that affects your normal voice. Overuse of your voice is a common risk factor, but there are many others.
When you’re affected, you have essentially three treatment options, depending on what is causing your condition. One of these three is corrective voice therapy, a conservative but effective approach when compared with medical or surgical options.
At Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates voice therapy takes a specialized approach that targets vocal cords in the same way you would build muscle strength and flexibility elsewhere, customized to the needs of your voice disorder. Treatment is painless and has no side effects to concern you.
Types of dysphonia
Muscle tension dysphonia is a very common type of voice disorder that can range in severity from mild to severe. Muscle tension dysphonia occurs when muscles and breathing patterns supporting speech production lose effective coordination. This may be due to physical abnormalities or, more commonly, as an adjustment to a voice injury. Muscle tension patterns can lead to several benign vocal fold lesions, such as, nodules, cysts, and polyps.
Spasmodic dysphonia is a rare disorder with a neurologic cause. It is typically a focal dystonia without other body movement issues. The effects of behavioral therapy for spasmodic dysphonia is fairly limited, however, combining voice therapy with medical treatments can result in the best outcomes. Vocal tremor, many times confused with spasmodic dysphonia, can respond to therapy techniques with greater success. A vocal tremor can coincide with other tremors in the body, or can be isolated to the vocal folds.
Choosing voice therapy over surgery
Our clinic offers a comprehensive approach for dysphonia, and varies greatly from patient to patient depending on the specific voice disorder. When you’re focused on the most effective treatment over time, corrective voice therapy can offer a better long-term prognosis, though surgical methods, if applicable to your condition, might produce faster initial results.
Perhaps key to this is the vocal training and/or retraining, particularly for muscle tension dysphonia patients. While surgery might remove a vocal nodule or polyp quickly, lack of proper voice training both pre and post-operatively can result in reinjury.
Approaches for corrective voice therapy
Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates features the work of Jennifer Cannady, MA CCC-SLP, our speech-language pathologist, to develop custom therapies based on your condition and needs. A voice therapy program typically includes techniques such as:
- Voice conservation with reduction of vocal fold trauma
- Vocal fold relaxation
- Rebalance of respiration, phonation and resonation
- Vocal fold strengthening and flexibility exercises
Combined with other minor lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or reducing harmful habits, voice therapy builds vocal strength, flexibility and good vocal habits, minimizing the effects of dysphonia. Contemporary voice therapy strives to achieve the best voice possible with the least amount of effort.
The importance of customized therapy
Every patient with dysphonia is unique, so there’s no vocal therapy approach that provides equally effective results. Typically, you undergo a variety of therapies, with each being monitored for effectiveness.
Future therapy sessions are based on exercises that produce your best results. While it takes more effort on your part to make and track your therapeutic efforts, you’re more likely to enjoy long-term vocal health.
Contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates by phone at their most convenient location. An examination and consultation are all you need to get started on the road toward a stronger voice. Book your appointment today.