Atypical chronic head and neck pain: don't forget Eagle's syndrome

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2008 Mar-Apr;12(2):131-3.


We report a case of an adult woman with an Eagle's Syndrome (ES) treated with medical therapy. ES is characterized by an aspecific orofacial pain secondary to calcification of the stylohyoid ligament or elongated styoid process. In about 4% of general population an elongated styloid process occurs, while only about 4% of these patients are symptomatic. We report a case of a 49-year-old lady with a 1-year history of oro-pharyngeal foreign body sensation localized at the left tonsillar fossa, associated with a dull intermittent pain. A bony projection was palpable with bimanual transoral exploration. A lateral radiograph and a computed tomography scan of head and neck showed an elongated styloid process of 57 mm on the left side and 48 mm on the right one. The patient refused surgical treatment as first choice. She underwent a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory local treatment, with progressive disappearance of symptoms. After 6 months she had no recurrence of symptoms. In conclusion, a precise differential diagnosis is crucial in order to choose the most adequate treatment, which can be either surgical or non surgical. Medical treatment represents the first choice, followed by surgical styloid process resection, in the case of persistence or ingravescence of the complaint.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Facial Pain / diagnosis*
  • Facial Pain / drug therapy
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ligaments / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis*
  • Neck Pain / drug therapy
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / diagnosis
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / drug therapy
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / pathology
  • Syndrome
  • Temporal Bone / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal