Tension of the vocal cords

How we can help people with tension of the vocal cords

Tension of the vocal cords is when both vocal folds do not come together in the correct manner. This is because there are muscles which are pulling them apart at the same time, causing tension. This can be caused through stress, anxiety or fatigue. Speech and language therapy can help to support an individual with tension of the vocal folds by giving them advice and a treatment programme to help reduce the impact it is having on their voice and communication.

What is tension of the vocal cords?

Tension of the vocal cords is when the cords do not come together properly and leave a gap. This gap means that too much air will escape causing phonation (sound produced) to be laboured, breathy and difficult to achieve without closure of the cords.

What causes tension of the vocal cords?

Stress can be a major cause of vocal cord tension. 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.

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

Speech and language therapy can help individuals who suffer from tension of the vocal folds to work on voice, speech sounds and general communication.

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 tension of the vocal cords?

Speech and language therapy can help to alleviate vocal tension and establish a more efficient way of using the voice so the individual 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 developing an individualised treatment plan for that individual.

Speech and language therapy can help improve any aspect of an individual's communication dependent on their needs. It can also help increase confidence and self-esteem whilst reducing anxiety when communicating with others.

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

Speech and language therapy 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.


Tension in the vocal folds can be caused through stress. The vocal folds will not close efficiently, meaning phonation will become difficult. 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 office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

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