An unusual cause of neck pain and headache

By March 25, 2019 blog No Comments

‘Eagle Syndrome’ is a rare condition first described  in 1937 by an American ENT specialist, Dr Watt Weams Eagle (great name)! It sometimes starts after surgery to the tonsils, strangely. A case was written up recently in the British Medical Journal.

In cases of Eagle Syndrome, the styloid bone is too long  and pokes into the internal carotid artery, tearing it. This will give neck pain and headache, and could, theoretically, be fatal. The long styloid bone can also compress the sympathetic nerves, causing pupil size asymmetry, and drooping (ptosis) of one eyelid. It can also cause anhydrosis (no sweating). In addition to neck pain and headaches, patients with Eagle Syndrome will also complain of throat pain and difficulty swallowing.

To correct the problem, the patient needs to undergo surgery to trim the styloid bone and decompress the internal carotid artery. It is a rare condition. I don’t think that I have seen a case of it in the 33 years that I have been in practice.

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