Spasmodic Dysphonia is a neurologic disease that causes involuntary movements of the vocal folds. The cause of Spasmodic Dysphonia is unknown. Spasmodic Dysphonia is not hereditary and the symptoms often begin in persons in their 30s and 40s.
Spasmodic Dysphonia patients have a “jerky” or “tremulous” quality to their voice and their voice often sounds strained. The voice changes are task specific and typically occur during just one type of vocal activity. For example, a patient with Spasmodic Dysphonia may only experience the symptoms when speaking, not when singing or laughing. The symptoms are often exacerbated with anxiety.
There is no cure for Spasmodic Dysphonia; the goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms. Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections into the vocal folds, through the skin of the neck, reduce the involuntary movement of the vocal folds by partially weakening them. By doing this, the abnormal contraction can be effectively prevented. The effects typically last several months and therefore, patients require lifelong injections to reduce the symptoms. The frequency of injections, as well as the dose given each time, varies for each patient. Voice therapy offers little relief, since the vocal fold motion is involuntary.