Skip to main content
Explore URMC

UR Medicine

UR Medicine / Otolaryngology (ENT) / Speech Pathology / Our Services / Muscle Tension Dysphonia


Muscle Tension Dysphonia & Functional Voice Disorders

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) can present in multiple different ways.  MTD generally involves excessive glottic and supraglottic contraction- more muscle tension around the voice box than is needed to produce voice.  Excessive muscle tension frequently results in a strained vocal quality, sometimes including breathiness or weakness also.  Muscle tension dysphonia is frequently correlated with increased stress, anxiety, high vocal demand, and feeling overwhelmed by commitments.  In this sense, it is not unlike muscular tension throughout the rest of the body. MTD can leave a speaker feeling that their voice is tired or painful to use.

What are functional voice disorders?

Functional voice disorders are changes to the voice in the absence of a clear anatomic or physiologic cause.  Instead, they are the result of an uncoordinated voice system.  Muscles may work too hard and cause strain, the vocal folds may be held in an inappropriate position for voicing, or other similar functional errors may occur.  Muscle tension dysphonia is a common type of functional voice disorder.  Functional voice disorders are most commonly treated with voice therapy.

Speech-Language Pathology Evaluation & Therapy

Our Speech-Language Pathologists, who have specialty training and expertise in voice disorders, assessment and treatment, will complete a personalized assessment of your voice. Assessment may include:

  • A detailed history collection
  • Laryngeal Function Studies consisting of computerized voice analysis and airway measures
  • Behavioral voice and communication analysis
  • Stimulability trials

Prior to the initiation of voice therapy, a laryngeal examination must be completed in order to identify the etiology of your individual voice problem and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

If you are recommended for voice therapy, your therapy program may include some or all of the following techniques:

  • Strengthen and re-balance laryngeal and pharyngeal musculature, including the muscles, joints and ligaments used in voice production
  • Learn techniques for producing a healthy voice while eliminating overuse or abuse
  • Exercise laryngeal muscles
  • Create a healthy motor pattern and balance pressures to achieve the ideal configuration of your vocal folds for voice use
  • Learn suppression and breathing strategies to minimize coughing or throat clearing (if this is a problem for you)

Additional Information

American Speech-Language Hearing Association – Voice Disorders