Muscle Tension Dysphonia is different from spasmodic dysphonia but a person can have both conditions

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is a condition of extra vocal work and strain. Most of the time, it is due to extra effort that one puts into voice to try to work around another vocal problem. More rarely, it can occur all by itself.  It involves putting extra effort into a vocal task that perhaps is not necessary or required to make sound. This can actually lead to worsening of voice and other throat symptoms in and of itself.

Muscle Tension Dysphonia is considered a functional condition rather than a neurological one. It occurs when the speaker exerts too much pressure or effort on the laryngeal muscles causing the voice to sound tight or strained. This tension prevents the voice from working efficiently. It is sometimes referred to as a “hyperfunctional” voice.

There are two types of MTD:

  • Primary MTD — The muscles in the neck are tense when talking but there is no abnormality in the larynx (voice box). 
  • Secondary MTD — In this type, there is an abnormality in the voice box that causes other muscles to compensate and help produce sounds. This causes over-use of these other muscles because they are not normally tasked with this type of work.