Facts About The Eagle Syndrome
The Eagle syndrome has nothing to do with the bird of prey, nor do the symptoms in any way associate with the bird. It is rather an anatomical disorder initially described by Dr. Watt W. Eagle of Duke University.
The Styloid Process - The Eagle syndrome involves a long sharply pointed bone at the base of the skull called the styloid process. The Eagle syndrome is the condition in which the styloid process becomes abnormally long, the cause of which is usually not well understood if understood at all. It is known that Eagle syndrome is often the result of weakness in and calcification of a ligament attached to the styloid process, but what causes this weakness and calcification is not clear. The syndrome is a rather rare condition which seems in part to be a result of aging and for reasons unknown, is more common in women.
Eagle Syndrome Symptoms - There are a number of symptoms associated with the Eagle syndrome, the reason being that there are a number of ligaments and muscles and nerves attached to the styloid process. When the bone becomes abnormally long, these ligaments, muscles, and nerves are affected in such a manner as to produce various kinds of pain or discomfort. The affected ligaments, muscles, and nerves attach to the tongue, floor of the mouth, and facial muscles as well as to areas affecting the nose and ears. Eagle syndrome symptoms therefore include such things as a constant pain felt in the lower skull, pain experienced when tilting or turning the head, pain when swallowing, and dizziness, vertigo, and migraines due to pressure on the auditory nerves. Even the facial nerves can be affected making movements of the facial muscles a cause of discomfort.
Treatments - Most treatments in the past for Eagle syndrome though well intentioned have either proven ineffective, or at times have caused more harm than good. Pain relief through the use of cortisone shots have only proven to be a temporary solution at best, and have led to a more severe condition at worst, the problem being that pain relievers, though sometimes effective, often do little in the way of healing, and with the Eagle syndrome it is a healing process that is required. Surgery is one option, but is delicate, risky and not all that often effective, as there are a number of muscles and nerves involved.
Use Of Prolotherapy - The most effective treatment for the Eagle syndrome appears to be a Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy actually introduces inflammation into the affected area. Since the body heals by the process of inflammation, it is believed that Prolotherapy can effectively treat the condition the styloid process has encountered.
The logical question becomes, how can the introduction of inflammation treat a condition caused by the lengthening of a bone. The simple answer is that one of the problems associated with the lengthening of the styloid process is a weakening and calcification of the stylohyoid ligament. If this weakening and calcification of the stylohyoid ligament can be arrested or reversed, relief is often obtained.
Summary - In summary, the seriousness of the Eagle syndrome, though the condition is rare, lies largely in the fact that the attachments to the styloid process control so many different functions, plus the fact that the location of the styloid process, in the neck at the base of the skull, is a place most surgeons may fear to tread, especially when a positive outcome of the surgery is significantly less than certain. The symptoms can range form mild to nearly debilitating and can affect breathing, swallowing, hearing, the sinuses, and facial nerves and muscles. Treatment most often addresses the strengthening of the stylohyoid ligament and arresting or reversing the calcification of that ligament.