Strain of the vocal cords

How we can help people with strain of the vocal cords

Straining of the vocal cords is very common. Vocal cord strain can be even more common if someone uses their voice a lot as part of their occupation. An example of this would be a singer or a teacher. A strained voice occurs when the voice is overworked or misused. The voice will become hoarse and it will become painful to phonate (produce sound). Speech and language therapy will help individuals with vocal cord strain by providing advice, support and an individualised therapy programme to help reduce the impact the strain is having on their vocal quality.

What is strain of the vocal cords?

Strain of the vocal cords is when the vocal cords are fatigued. With rest, most of the time; the vocal cords tend to get better without medical attention. Straining occurs when the voice is overused or tired, therefore someone who makes a living out of their voice, for example, singers can be more susceptible to strains.

Symptoms of strain include a raspy and hoarse voice, dryness and pain as well as complete voice loss over a period of time. Speech and language therapy is very beneficial for individuals with strain of the vocal cords. Speech and language therapy can offer support, advice and exercises to help the individual use their voice in a different manner, resulting in reduced stress on the vocal cords.

What causes strain of the vocal cords?

Stress and fatigue can be a major cause of vocal strain. This is because our muscles tense up when stressed and the ones in the neck can contract in an inappropriate manner, leading to a hoarse voice and too much tension in the vocal folds. Sometimes, the voice box is affected, leading to no phonation at all.

Strained vocal cords can also be caused by other factors such as:

What problems caused by strain of the vocal cords can SLT UK help with?

Speech and language therapy can help individuals to work on many different problems associated with strain of the vocal cords, including voice, speech sound and communication problems.

Speech and language therapy aims to work on aspects of the voice which are not being used to the best of their ability. Speech and language therapy can therefore aim to discover new ways of using the voice in order to avoid excess strain and tension.

How does speech and language therapy help strain of the vocal cords?

Speech and language therapy can help to alleviate vocal strain and establish a more efficient way of using the voice so the patient can use their voice in a better capacity, with less strain and tension. Speech and language therapy will investigate the cause and discover whether a reduction in the exposed tension can be reduced, and if not, ways of coping with the situation and a structured therapy programme for that individual will be established.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for strain of the vocal cords involve?

Speech and language therapy for strain of the vocal cords may involve assessments, reports, reviews, therapy programmes, training, support groups, advice and education.

Specific treatment will include voice therapy.

An initial assessment will be carried out by one of our speech and language therapists. This will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning communication and speech. It will also provide a chance for you to share any concerns you may have, and allow you to discuss what you would like to work on and improve.


Strain on the vocal folds can be caused by excess usage and fatigue which can lead to pain when trying to phonate and sometimes no phonation at all. Someone who uses their voice for work may be more susceptible to straining their voice. Speech and language therapy can help this condition by trying to resolve the stressful situations and trying to establish coping strategies for the voice in order to reduce stress and tension.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email or call 0330 088 5643.

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