Vocal Nodules and Polyps

Vocal nodules and polyps are bump-like lesions that form on vocal folds as a result of increased stress and strain when speaking.

Overview and Symptoms

Symptoms of vocal nodules and polyps include:

  • hoarseness or breathiness of the voice
  • a rough or scratchy voice
  • shooting pain from ear to ear
  • a sensation of having a lump in the throat
  • neck pain
  • decreased range of vocal pitch
  • voice fatigue and body fatigue

During your first diagnostic visit, a speech pathologist will use a diagnostic tool called laryngovideostroboscopy to examine your vocal folds in slow motion.

On a second visit, a speech pathologist will collect acoustic measurements of your voice and have you participate in trial voice therapy techniques.


The first approach to treatment for these nodules and small polyps, which are usually benign, is voice therapy. Large lesions and ones that do not respond to therapy may require surgical intervention.

Voice therapy is much like physical therapy for any other part of the body. Sessions usually take place weekly for about 8 visits. You'll learn about the basic anatomy and physiology of the voice mechanism and about how to care for your voice. Pre-surgical counseling is provided when appropriate.

To achieve the best results, we'll provide exercises to be completed at home. We will do our best to help you figure out how to fit these practice exercises into your daily schedule.

Through practice, the body learns to make the small changes required for effective voice activation and for a smoother, easier voice. Regular practice helps to make these changes automatic so that eventually they come naturally. You may find it helpful to record your voice therapy visit using you smart phone or other recording device to aid with home practice.

If you need surgery, voice therapy may occur either before or after surgery takes place. After, you will have a final voice re-assessment and laryngovideostroboscopy.

Voice, Speech and Swallowing Therapy

The Voice, Speech and Swallowing Therapy experts at BIDMC are nationally recognized leaders, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of voice, airway, speech and swallowing conditions.

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