First, what is spasmodic dysphonia (“SD”)?
Spasmodic dysphonia is a voice disorder characterized by involuntary spasms in the voice box. These spasms cause the voice to break, or created a strained sound.
Spasmodic dysphonia is a lifelong condition, often resulting in the patient not being able to speak at all.
What causes spasmodic dysphonia?
While its exact cause is unknown, prevailing thought points to a disorder in the central nervous system.
Without known causes or a universal path toward treatment, this is both a debilitating and frustrating disorder! Especially for today’s success story–a voice teacher who depends on her voice for her livelihood.
As you’ll see, potentially treating spasmodic dysphonia can take a patient down the rabbit hole of countless specialists, each with a different solution. In many cases, Botox injections have found success, but they require an expert hand.
Enter our very own “Voice Box Doctor,” Sandra Stinnett, M.D!
Success Story: Carol Buchman, Memphis, TN
“It was a long journey for me to get a diagnosis of the relatively rare condition of spasmodic dysphonia. As an elementary art teacher, my voice is my livelihood; the condition was making my job and my life miserable. Even short phone conversations became sources of stress and discomfort.
After seeing ENTs, allergists, lung and heart doctors, vocal coaches, and speech therapists, I was finally diagnosed with SD and sent to an institution in Nashville–at the time, this was the closest place for a laryngologist trained in SD and Botox injections.
I made the trek 3 or 4 times a year, having to book appointments a year in advance. Additionally, my insurance would not cover my treatment, forcing me to pay out of pocket.
I was so thrilled when UTHSC ENT hired Dr. Stinnett and provided her with state-of-the-art-equipment. I was even more thrilled after working with her! Happily, my insurance now covers my shots at UT, plus additional speech therapy from the top-notch speech therapist, Amy Nabors.
The Botox shots take exact precision. But they are also a bit of an art form, as dosing often requires tweaking according to many factors.
Dr. Stinnett’s shots have worked well and create fewer side-effects than when I went anywhere else. She and her staff are caring, engaged, and seem genuinely interested–medically and anecdotally–in learning all they can about this condition. They are upbeat and dare I say fun?
If you are new to this procedure, remember that Botox is not a perfect solution for everyone. However, it has allowed me to remain reasonably comfortable at a job where I use my voice constantly. I no longer dread the phone, and I have months where I actually sound and feel normal.
Dr Stinnett’s office has been a lifesaver!”
What makes UTHSC ENT’s Dream Team different?
As our Director of Laryngology, Dr. Stinnett is fellowship-trained and at the forefront of her field. In Mrs. Buchman’s case, not only did Dr. Stinnett correctly diagnose the issue where others had failed, she offered the proper treatment, then administered it at a life-changing level.
Simply put: if you have a voice issue and you’re tired of seeing countless specialists with mixed results, it’s time you call Dr. Stinnett (901.272.6051). Our “Voice Box Doctor” provides world class treatment in your hometown.