This is a very rare incident.
Hyoid bone as such does not dislocate and it may happen in accidents to jaw bone.The Hyoid bone is the only bone in the body that does not attach directly . When a bone is dislocated, its ligaments are often torn or overstretched and this may be the reason it is giving him that popping sound and pain.
The only way is not to make the bone stretch or dislocate so he was given a neck brace.
Here by doing this the clinician is preventing the hyoid bone to pop out.
Management of injuries to the larynx is based on the mechanisms and extent of the injury found during the initial assessment. The first priority is always to establish the airway. If the patient is breathing well and the injury does not require surgical care, the patient may be observed for some months or else surgery is the only option.
Thank you for educating me a bit. I can understand that keeping his ligaments from moving may heal this problem or help it to some degree.
Do you think he should have this MRI? He already had a catscan which showed nothing.
The Dr. suggested an MRI with contrast. He has had so many MRI's on his knees already plus catscans and xrays over the past year. So much radiation can't be good for a kid his age. I don't see how the MRI will show much more than the catscan, do you?
And also this Dr. said he has never seen this before and does not know how to treat it.
MRI's show an incredible amount of detail...more than is possible w/ a CT. Also, MRI's function differently and are not actually considered to impart radiation like CT's do. It's certainly woth it for your son to get one. The Dr. will be able to see if ligaments are torn. If it's possible for your son to initiate the dislocation it would be very beneficial to have images in the MRI taken while his hyoid is dislocated, however he will likely need to remain in that position for at least 30 minutes. If he can breathe OK maybe pain meds can be administered to make getting those images possible.
What your son has may have something to do with the elongation of his superior cornu of the thyroid cartilage. This is one of the weakest structures in the neck so if he did sustain a neck injury this area could easily become bent or stretched and rub against his hyoid bone because it is elongated. That clicking noise may be the elongated cartilage coming into contact with his hyoid bone or cervical transverse process. 3D AXIAL CT SCAN is the best imaging study to check for this make sure you have an ENT who reads the below article and understands this condition. Also, visit the section on this site on hyoid bone problems, or read under my posts and their is a lot more information on thyroid cartilage abnormality. Your son may have something different though but I would check for this since it is a possibility this could be causing the clicking.
The complaint of a clicking in the throat when swallowing or (turning the neck) is uncommon but very discomforting and painful for those who experience it. It is such an unusual complaint that symptoms may be dismissed as psychogenic because a cause for the problem may not be readily apparent. We present a series of 11 cases in which all patients had an audible clicking or popping noise in the throat associated with neck and throat pain when swallowing or turning the neck. The most helpful diagnostic procedure was careful examination and palpation of the neck while the patient swallowed to localize the side and source of the clicking. Laryngeal computed tomographic (CT) scans helped in some cases to demonstrate thyroid-cartilage and/or vertebral body asymmetry. Each case was treated with surgery of the neck and larynx to trim the portion of the thyroid cartilage causing the clicking. In most cases the superior cornu of the thyroid cartilage projected posteriorly and medially. Surgery was successful in all cases to eliminate the symptoms. Though an uncommon complaint, our experience suggests that the clicking throat is a surgically treatable problem.
Thank you for your information. I did send my son for the MRI, which showed nothing because the hyoid was not dislocating at the time, of course once we got into the car heading home it popped out 3 times. The imaging center told us to come back when it dislocates and they will do more testing. The problem is that before it would pop and he would push it back in, now it just constantly pops and he feels sore and as if there is a golf ball in his throat.
I live on Long Island and every ENT I have taken him to or spoken with cannot even help him with this condition. They say it is very rare. One ENT gave us a perscription to have a Barium Swallow test done (do you think this will be helpful with a diagnosis?)
I have an appointment next week with an ENT in NYC who says he has experience with this and can help, but I have to pay out of pocket. I can afford the initial $250 visit, but I do not know what to do afterwards??? Do you have any suggesgtions?
The complaint of a clicking in the throat when swallowing is uncommon but very discomfortingand painful for those who experience it. It is such an unusual complaint
that symptoms may be dismissed as psychogenic because a cause for the problem may
not be readily apparent. We present a series of 11 cases in which all patients had an
audible clicking or popping noise in the throat associated with neck and throat pain when swallowing or turning the neck. The most helpful diagnostic procedure was careful examination and palpation of the neck while the patient swallowed to localize the side and source of the clicking.
Laryngeal computed tomographic (CT) scans helped in some cases to demonstrate thyroid cartilage
and/or vertebral body asymmetry. Each case was treated with surgery of the neck and
larynx to trim the portion of the thyroid cartilage causing the clicking. In most cases the superior
cornu of the thyroid cartilage projected posteriorly and medially. Surgery was successful in all cases
to eliminate the symptoms. Though an uncommon complaint, our experience suggests that the
clicking throat is a surgically treatable problem.
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001;127:1129-1131
Sex/Age, y Type of Symptoms (Duration, mo)
Trauma Procedure Outcome
1/F/37 Clicking when swallowing, throat pain (5) R neck No R SCE Complete resolution
2/F/27 Clicking when swallowing, neck pain (9) Mid neck Yes Trim superior edge of the thyroid lamina Complete resolution
3/M/18 Clicking when swallowing, neck pain (24) L neck Yes L SCE Complete resolution
4/F/39 Clicking when swallowing, neck pain (12) Bilateral neck,
No Bilateral SCE, posterior edge thyroid
ala excision (staged)
5/M/25 Clicking when swallowing, neck pain (12) Bilateral neck No Bilateral SCE Complete resolution
6/M/29 Throat pain when playing trumpet (12) R neck No R SCE Complete resolution
7/M/36 Odynophagia (6) L neck Yes L SCE Complete resolution
8/F/54 Throat pain, aphonia, odynophonia (8) R neck Yes R SCE Complete resolution
9/F/27 Throat, neck, facial pain (9) R neck Yes R SCE Complete resolution
10/F/51 Throat pain, clicking when swallowing (4) R neck Yes R SCE Complete resolution
11/F/15 Throat pain, clicking when swallowing (24) L neck Yes L SCE, L hyoid trim (staged) Complete resolution
Results of imaging studies (CT
scans) were initially reported as “normal.”
After several such studies, a different
University of Utah. If the clicking occurred
when turning the head, a spiral
CT scan was performed with the
patient in the neutral position. It was
then repeated with the patient’s head
turned and during a swallow. This
cause of the sound (Figure2). Interpretation
of the CT images requires
knowledge of the abnormalities that
may cause the clicking sound. The 3
abnormalities that were identifiedon
ala, (2) superior elongation of
the superior cornu of the thyroid cartilage,
cervical vertebra transverse process
Clicking in the throat can be treated
so that a treatment procedure can be
confidently recommended. Patients
symptoms are not products of their
imagination or something seen only
treated. In our series, laryngeal
clicking when swallowing was a
bona fide symptom with an identifiable
cause. It often had associated
throat pain and dysphagia and was
frequently, but not necessarily, associated
with prior trauma to the neck
was an elongated or posteriorly orientedsuperiorcornuofthethyroidcartilage.
Based on our experience, we
conclude the following: (1) Physical
examination is needed, with careful
palpation of theneckduring swallowing
and reproduction ofsymptomsto
localize the source of the click. Attention
cornu of the thyroid cartilage
when symptoms are to the side of the
neck and toward overlapping structures
in the thyrohyoid space when
symptoms are in the anterior of the
neck. (2) Laryngoplasty isaneffective
treatment under local or general anesthesia
to trim the offending region
(s) of the thyroid cartilage and/or hyoid
bone responsible for the clicking.
Accepted for publicationMay17, 2001.
Supported by grant K08-
DC00132 from the National Institutes
of Health, National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communication
Disorders, Bethesda, Md.
Corresponding author: Marshall
E. Smith, MD, Division of Otolaryngology–
Head and Neck Surgery,
3C-120, University of Utah
School of Medicine, 50 N Medical Dr,
Salt Lake City, UT 84132 (e-mail:
1. Counter RT. A clicking larynx. J Laryngol Otol.
2. Makura ZGG, Nigam A. The clunking neck.J Laryngol
3. Hilali AS, Saleh HA, Hickey SA. Clicking hyoid.
J R Soc Med. 1997;90:689-690.
(REPRINTED) ARCH OTOLARYNGOL HEAD NECK SURG/VOL 127, SEP 2001 WWW.ARCHOTO.COM
Update on my son. We saw a highly recommended ENT he did a scope video of Kurt's hyoid bone and it is definitely dislocated from the ligaments on the left side. He seemed stumped on how to proceed with this injury.
He took his video and my copies of the CT and MRI (which were both negative according to the radiologist) and is bringing them to meet with his board at Cornell University this upcoming Thursday.
We are sitting impatiently awaiting his direction on what they can do to fix this. It is extremely rare.
Good and great going and they will have to work out in giving a support to his hyoid bone so that it does not dislocate.
Every human being is special and different and the knowledge of anatomy will work here and a neat research procedure is what should be planned now.
Take care and support Kurt!
I am a 25 year-old male and have been suffering for about a year with what seems to be an identical problem. I will swallow, but it often feels as though the cartilage in my neck is dislodged and it becomes very uncomfortable and painful to the point that I get headaches if I leave it for any amount of time...so I am constantly "repositioning" the cartilage. The problem, though, is that as time has gone on I have become used to just "repositioning" it to the point that it just seems to be "floating" in my neck...repositioning it gives me comfort for one swallow, then it is dislocated again. And now whenever I walk and step with my left foot I hear and feel the clicking in my neck, almost like something is "broken" and shifting around. I have seen an ENT, and my doctor, and my chiropractor has also examined it...I've had a CT scan, an MRI, blood work, and an ultrasound, and all have come back unfounded. The chiropractor said it might be broken "strap" muscles; the ENT figured it was inflamed, and the MD isn't much help at all. This condition is extremely annoying and uncomfortable (not to mention scary), and I'm glad I found this thread so I know I'm not the only one and maybe there is a fix out there!! Thanks for any additional advice, and lulin4 good luck to your son.
I hate to say it but I am glad to know that I am not the only one with this problem. My neck (hyoid bone I'm guessing) has a tendency to pop out/dislocate to the left when my head is turned to the left and I yawn. This had been occuring for about the last 30 years and I long ago learned how to pop it back in. I think I sustained an injury while playing football because when we would tackle each other - one particular player, I would always get hit in the throat. I have been to numerous doctors and they have been unable to find anything wrong. One even called the problem a "minor inconvienience" which was an insult considering the pain involved when the bone is dislocated and one tries to swallow. I have no suggestions other than to say that there is another person out there that has the same identical problem. Good luck and if you find a treatment other than the neck brace, I would love to hear it.
I have the same problem and consulted many ENTs: no diagnosis was ever established and at last I was told that I should 'be careful when I eat and not lie down while eating or risk suffocation'! I was told that if I were a singer I would qualify for surgery but otherwise to live with it. Everytime I train at the gym I feel this mass in my throat and I too push on it for a few seconds relief. I find the medical establishment disgusting for telling me to tough it and dismissing my concerns, for what I feel is a very serious condition and certainely a constant discomfort. I had to stop sports activities and this has affected my mood - and I find no joy in life, being constantly reminded of my problem each time I swallow. Hard to work as well feeling like that. After seeing so many docotrs in vain, I am contemplating taking my life, because this is too unberable. I know it sounds extreeme, but so is the condition that I have to endure every minutes of my life. I wish I could bring more to the discussion, but unfortunately I cannot see any concrete option. I can only wish you luck and hope that you will find a better way to deal with this problem.
I have had this exact problem for years. My MD husband (a primary care doctor) simply pops it back into place for me, or I do it myself. He says it is a dislocation of the hyoid bone, and has had it happen to him, which is why he knew exactly what it was and what to when I had a particularly painful episode. Once it is popped back into place, all symptoms immediately clear, save for minor residual soreness. Therefore he would disagree with Dr. Vinod that there is no such thing. He says he doesn't know what causes it, but suggests that stress doesn't help.