There is not one path for the treatment of spasmodic dysphonia
There is not one ideal treatment that works for all and many times it is a combination of therapies that will have the greatest impact on a person. These are some alternative treatments, as well as new ones being studied, that may provide symptom reduction for those living with spasmodic dysphonia.
Myofascial Release (MFR) Therapy
MFR is a patient-directed manual therapy that relies on slow stretches and light pressure to ease the symptoms of SD. The practitioner will apply slow and gentle graded palpitations though the neck area attempting to replicate familiar aspects of the patient’s dysphonia. The goal of this therapy is as follows:
• Target lessening of symptoms
• Lessen vocal exertion
• Improve voice quality
• Provide more efficient breathing patterns
The MFR trained therapist uses patient directed approaches to alleviate symptoms and teaches the patient at-home stretches that will be used in addition to office therapy. Patients that show progress during sessions usually begin to have lasting improvement within 3 sessions.
Yoga and Relaxation
The gentle stretches of yoga can help reduce stress and may have a temporary impact of the severity of symptoms. Other relaxation techniques such as massage, tai chi, and relaxed may help. The key is finding the combination that works best for you.
Intended to improved whole body health and some people have reported short-term symptom reduction.
It has long been noted by people living with SD and vocal tremor and physicians alike that alcohol may improve symptoms temporarily in some people with spasmodic dysphonia. However, this anecdotal finding has never been confirmed. A survey of 641 people with isolated spasmodic dysphonia (SD, or laryngeal dystonia) and with spasmodic dysphonia combined with voice tremor (SD/VT) found that more than half of patients in both groups thought that their voice symptoms improve to some extent after drinking alcohol. Patient’s family and friends also noticed similar improvement. The duration of effect of alcohol on voice symptoms was thought to last 1 – 3 hours in both patient groups. Alcohol is thought to modulate the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying abnormal neurotransmission of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in dystonia. However, this is not a recommended method of treatment due to the long-term consequences.