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What is causing your throat pain?


Throat pain that is persistent with no underlying reason can come from tension to the muscles of the neck. Small muscles that control the hyoid bone or Adam's apple can develop trigger points and be overactive due to changes to jaw and neck motion or injury to these areas.


Injury to the upper neck with pain and loss of mobility, even changes to the bone as seen with imaging, can refer pain into the throat. These structures are very close to each other. At Cornerstone we may order a Cone Beam CT to assess your TMJ, neck, throat and airway. Bone spurs in the upper neck, signs of injury to the front of the cervical or neck joints, can easily refer pain into the throat.

This is a cone beam CT, mid sagittal view or the middle of the head and neck. The front teeth are on the right and the neck bones are on the left. The colored area is the airway or throat. This one is narrow and suggests a possibility of a higher risk of sleep apnea.




Look at how close the upper neck is to the back of the throat! Injury and pain from the front of the upper neck can can refer pain into the throat. This image shows bone spurs to the dens and anterior arch of the atlas of the upper neck. The back of the throat is 1 to 2 millimeters from the front of the upper neck. Pain to this area can confuse the brain into thinking your 'throat hurts', referred throat pain.


Is your throat pain coming from the neck?


Here are some symptoms to look for...


Pain with swallowing that remains the same

No changes to your throat pain with gargling

Worse after increased speaking

Loss of voice or hoarseness

A sensation or pressure in the back of your throat

Neck tension or stiffness


Other symptoms include...


Headaches, especially if they are one sided

Ear pressure or pain, difficulty clearing your ears

Jaw clicking or pain


Here is a video of a patient with hoarseness and loss of her voice that showed immediate improvement with physical testing. This is a common finding that suggests these problems can have a musculoskeletal foundation and improve with Physical Therapy. Cornerstone routinely sees clients with this type of problem successfully! Think you have throat pain that is a muscle tension problem? Call us at 719-596-5000 to schedule an evaluation.



Here is a physician that shares her story of neck and throat pain and how she figured out the connection of the muscles of the neck and shoulder and her pain. Check out her video.



You can feel around your Adam's apple or hyoid bone. Any tenderness or pain to the sides of your throat? Any pain to the front of your neck?


Other reasons for throat pain


Inflammation or illness

vocal cord strain

GERD or reflux from the stomach

lesions or tumors to the throat (very unlikely)


Who should I see about my throat pain?


An ENT or Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor will confirm if there is an underlying problem such as reflux or GERD, or if there are any lesions or signs of injury in your throat. They do this by putting a camera up your nose to see the back of your throat and the vocal cords. This is called a laryngoscopy.


If your medical team is unable to find the source of your pain then it is very likely that it is coming from the structures of the throat and neck. Good news! This is treatable. It also means a detailed clinical evaluation is recommended.


Throat pain coming from the neck or jaw can be treated!


You can call Cornerstone at 719-596-5000 or text us at 719-249-5850 if you have questions or would like to get started on finding a reason for your throat pain and a resolution to your problem.




Dry Needling is commonly used to treat muscle knots in the throat and neck at Cornerstone Physical Therapy. It is a fast and very effective method of reducing muscle pain and can help with our diagnosis of throat pain related to the muscles of the throat and neck.


What is causing your throat pain?