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Clicking in the throat is an uncommon problem, however, not one that is entirely unheard of. In previous years, doctors have suggested that patients complaining of clicking while swallowing were hypochondriacs or that the symptoms were psychogenic in origin. Now, several case reports have been published where patients complaining of the same symptom have been treated successfully.

Related Symptoms

The most apparent symptom is a clicking in the throat of course, but apart from that researchers have noted that a difficulty in swallowing and pain in the throat frequently accompany this symptom. Patients who had been in an accident or suffered sporting trauma to the neck were much more likely to report the above-mentioned symptoms although other individuals with no such history can demonstrate the same symptoms as well.

The cause in such patients is more difficult to ascertain. The possibility of the thyroid bone changing shape mildly with age has also been raised.

Possible Causes

Clicking while chewing is a common symptom of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, however, that is quite easily palpable. Patients can possibly associate this clicking with chewing and swallowing and so may phrase their complaint in a complicated manner. It is unlikely that a trained doctor will misdiagnose it for clicking inside the throat though and is thus one of the first things ruled out.

The next possible cause is a shortened hyoid muscle that is causing a click during swallowing. A CT scan would be needed to confirm normal anatomy of this and other muscles around the neck.

Probably the most common cause of the development of a clicking noise in the throat would be an anatomic irregularity within the thyroid bone. The thyroid bone is the most prominent part of the larynx, and researchers have found that an elongated portion of the bone could be a common culprit. 

This finding can be elicited by close physical examination and then confirmed through the use of CT scans. Treatment involves surgically accessing the bone and then shaving off the extra parts.

A differential diagnosis would also include ruling out the possibility of an elongated styloid process, something that occurs in a condition known as Eagle syndrome. The styloid process is part of one of the skull bones and extends downwards towards the neck.

If this process is longer than is usual or is deviated from its normal direction then it may result in pain and discomfort in movement of the neck during eating and swallowing.  


It appears that surgical treatment for the correction of anatomical abnormalities is the most successful method for the correction of clicking in the throat. It has been documented by clinicians over a series of patients where reduction of the thyroid bone resulted in a cessation of symptoms and provided long-term relief to the patients. Injection of anesthetic drugs in the region of the thyroid bone also helped patients find relief for a short duration, but the pain returned in cases where follow-up surgical reduction of the bone was not done.

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