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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,
This isn't the first time I've had this problem, so I think I need to make some changes in something or another. My throat expands quite a bit when I play, I assume this is fairly typical. The right side of my throat, above the larynx and below the jawbone, expands more than the left. I'm not sure that is typical. I occasionally experience some soreness in my throat, I assume from air pressure, which is typically gone after a few minutes of rest. Yesterday, however I experienced some pain on the right side of my throat, the more expansive side, that I suspect is the result of straining a muscle or expanding something beyond safe limits. I just graduated from college and work on overtones for about half an hour every day, so I don't think its the result of poor technique (although I'm not writing anything off completely). It hurt more when I blew harder, so it's gotta be the pressure.

This happened a few years back when I was playing on a stuffy classical setup on alto for school. I backed off my practice routine for a week or so and haven't had any severe problems since.

I know Michael Brecker had throat problems and changed his mouthpiece to help him out. Any thoughts on whether that might be a good idea or what I should be looking for? My current setup on tenor requires a fair amount of air. I use a Jody Jazz HR 8* with Rico Jazz Select 3H, worked down a bit though, maybe more like a 3M when I'm done.

Any other thoughts? Anyone have any idea what I might be doing to my throat? Has anyone seen a doctor/medical practitioner for a similar problem? I'm open to having the problem checked out, but I don't have insurance nor the money to see a bunch of doctors, so if I get it checked I'd like to see someone who can, hopefully, get to the bottom of it quickly.

Questions, comments, concerns, other thoughts, tangents, even criticisms are welcome.

Thanks in advance everyone,
Evan
 

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Sounds like your throat is irritated. Do you smoke? Or work in smokey night clubs? :) Do you snore, or breath with your mouth when you sleep? (I know, you may have to ask an intimate friend or family member...) All of these can lead to a dry throat and thus, playing will irritate it more.

I had the same issue, and I have sleep apnea, and this problem went away when I started using a CPAP machine with a humidifier attachment (the air in the machine blows over a reservoir of slightly heated water to humidify it). I have also found that using mouthwash every day helps, possibly to keep bacteria in my throat under control. This problem was worse for me when I lived in a low humidity area (high desert).

However, if finding and correcting other sources of throat irritation doesn't help, definitely see a Dr., preferably an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. Not sure where you are located, but if in a larger metropolitan area there is likely one that is familiar with the particular problems of wind players.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply,

I do smoke cigars, but that's an infrequent event, once per week or less. As for the clubs, I'm in Michigan where smoking at any indoor business that doesn't actually sell tobacco is illegal. It basically has to be a cigar bar or smoking lounge.

I don't believe I snore. I could sleep with my mouth open but I don't really have a good person to confirm or refute that theory for me. My throat isn't particularly dry when I wake up though.

I really believe what I'm experiencing is a muscular pain. There was a specific moment when the pain increased, making me suspect I pulled a muscle or something of that sort. It also improves a bit each day, which might suggest I'm healing. My hope is that I'll be in top or near top shape within a week, and until then I'll just practice a bit quieter and use my softer (dying) reeds.

On that note, I'm about forty minutes north of downtown Detroit, anyone know of a good ENT specialist in this area? Maybe that's a question for the almighty, omnipresent Google.

Thanks again,
Evan
 

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I got a pain in my throat after I nickel plated my mouthpiece. Had to remove the nickel which cured the problem.

You've got a harder reed than I'd be comfortable with. I'd try using a softer reed and see if that helps.
Also you can sometimes stress your throat trying to open it up. Some players can try and control the airflow i.e. stopping and starting the notes, with the throat which could cause you some trouble.

You could have something else wrong with you that is unrelated to the sax, but maybe the sax it highlighting the problem. Get a doc to look at it and they'll refer you if necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, a softer reed or smaller mouthpiece seems like it might help. I guess I'll start working my reeds down some more. Oh well, guess the only way to really figure this out is to have a professional look at me.

Thanks,
Evan
 

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Discussion Starter #6
While I'm thinking of it, I know a guy that plays a Guardala MB II with Rico Royal #4 reeds. Sounds good too, don't know how he does it.
 

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This is an old thread, but there are some things to consider. When I was younger, I used #4 reeds on a 130/0 Berg. Everyone did in those days. I just had an upper endoscopy and because of what you've described and some other info I have I thought I'd post this.

I had a sore throat, cough at night and a burning pain. Definately thought I had cancer...I work in Pathology in the day, so I get a litle paranoid. I've had these symptoms for about a year and finally I went to the outpatient dept. where I work, was examined and had to have the endoscopy and barium swallow. My Doc found a condition called "Zenker's Diverticulum". It's an outpouching in the throat where it meets the esophagus. There are surgical treatments for them, but I've seen the procedure and no thanks...I'll wait until they can do the repair with an endoscope. No cracking my chest. I take antacids and don't eat anything after 6:00 PM and am feeling better. The Doc said that this is common in sax players because we use our throats so much and he's seen several in the past few years. You might want to get that checked out. I use softer reeds and everything is fine. He figures I've had this for years and it only recently became symptomatic. I'm now 56!

Another thing that can happen is called a Laryngocele. Mike Brecker was feeling air pressure inside his neck and found out that because he was pushing so hard on an open mouthpiece with a "plank" of a reed that he'd torn the tissue in his larynx. Air escaped around in his neck and he had to have surgery. This was way back in 1977. My Doc checked me for that too, but it was negative. I guess the lesson is #4 reeds and pushing too hard can cause damage in some players. I've backed off reed strength and it hasn't affected my tone or quality of music. Just thought you might appreciate some information. If the problem keeps up...see a Doc. Best Wishes!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I do appreciate this post. I haven't had myself checked out however I have begun working my reeds a bit more so they play softer. I also moved from an 8* to a 7* (plug for Ed Zentera, his pieces play great) which I'm much more comfortable with now that I've adjusted to it.

I'm glad to hear that playing on an easier blowing setup helped you. Hopefully this won't pose any problems for me after these setup changes. I still intend to get checked out at some point but I need to get some health insurance first. As long as I can play without damaging myself I'm going to wait until that point. When I do get checked I'll resurrect this thread to post something conclusive.

Thanks again,
Evan
 

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Hi, i know... It this a old thread but i thinks is very important. I have a problem in my neck, pain for months... But now im better... My problem was my thyroid. I use T4 because i have thyroid enlargement... Two week later to begin the medication, the pain Decreased and now i can play again... But i have some little pain later to play hard. I go to speak with my doctor over laryngocele too. Thanks!
 

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I just want to thank everyone to take part in this thread. I have the same problem and I hope that your solution methods will help me losing the pain :)
 

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I also have this problem. With me, both sides of my neck expand outward to the sides, not too much, but it is quite noticeable. It usually doesn't cause pain unless I play for over 2 hours. I talked to my doctor about this and he just told me to change the way I play :dontknow:. I hate this because it looks SOOOOO ugly.
 

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I too have been experiencing left sided neck pain when I am on a gig where I am blowing really hard. Any follow up on your situation?

I am certain that at least for me it is related to air pressure and "blowing from the neck". I am going to start using a softer reed and possibly change mouthpieces to a lower resistance setup and see where that gets me.
 
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