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Eagle syndrome

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Dec 17, 2021

Eagle syndrome (also termed stylohyoid syndrome,[1]styloid syndrome,[2]styloid-stylohyoid syndrome,[2] or styloid–carotid artery syndrome)[3] is a rare condition commonly characterized but not limited to sudden, sharp nerve-like pain in the jaw bone and joint, back of the throat, and base of the tongue, triggered by swallowing, moving the jaw, or turning the neck. Since the brain to body’s nerve connections pass through the neck, many seemingly random symptoms can be triggered by impingement or entanglement.[1] First described by American otorhinolaryngologist Watt Weems Eagle in 1937,[4] the condition is caused by an elongated or misshapen styloid process (the slender, pointed piece of bone just below the ear) and/or calcification of the stylohyoid ligament, either of which interferes with the functioning of neighboring regions in the body, giving rise to pain.[citation needed]

Medical condition
Eagle syndrome
Other names Styloid syndrome
Anteroposterior and lateral radiographs of cervical spine showing ossification of the stylohyoid ligament on both sides

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Possible symptoms include:

  • Sharp, shooting pain in the jaw, back of the throat, base of the tongue,[1] ears, neck, and/or face[5]
  • Difficulty swallowing[5]
  • Sensation of having a foreign object in throat[5]
  • Pain from chewing, swallowing, turning the neck, or touching the back of the throat[6]
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears

Classic eagle syndrome is present on only one side, however, rarely, it may be present on both sides.[5]

In vascular Eagle syndrome, the elongated styloid process comes in contact with the internal carotid artery below the skull. In these cases, turning the head can cause compression of the artery or a tear inside the blood vessel, which restricts blood flow and can potentially lead to a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.[5] Sometimes, compression of the internal jugular vein can also occur and might lead to increased intracranial pressure.[7][8][9]

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