Vocal Cord Paralysis

Cristina Duran, M.S., CCC-SLP, helping to explain laryngeal anatomy.

There are two vocal cords in your larynx. They come together and vibrate to produce sound. If one or both are paralyzed or unable to move, you may experience voice, breathing, and/or swallowing problems.

Causes of Vocal Cord Paralysis

Common causes of vocal cord paralysis include:

  • Head and neck injuries
  • Neurological disorders
  • Stroke
  • Surgery
  • Tumors
  • Viral infections
  • Vocal cord cancer 

Treatment of Vocal Cord Paralysis

Treatment for vocal cord paralysis usually includes voice therapy to optimize voice production and improve breathing and swallowing.

Vocal cord injections with fillers can also enlarge a paralyzed vocal cord so that it comes in contact with the functioning cord to produce sound. These injections help improve voice quality, decrease windedness, and improve swallowing ability. Most of these injections are performed in the office setting and only take about 20 to 30 minutes. These injections can also be performed in the operating room under a general anesthetic, if necessary. 

Frequently, vocal cord weakness is a temporary problem. For longer-lasting immobility, permanent procedures including thyroplasty and arytenoid adduction are performed in the operating room. Additionally, laryngeal reinnervation surgery may be appropriate.

Request an Appointment

If you experience any change in your voice that is impacting your livelihood, we can help. To schedule an appointment with one of our laryngologists, or for more information about our services, call 214-645-8300.