The stylohyoid muscle is a facial muscle located in the neck. It is thin and slender and is attached to the hyoid bone, which lies just below the lower jaw, or mandible. The muscle lifts the hyoid bone during swallowing, which gives the characteristic in and out appearance of swallowing. In addition, it lifts the base of the tongue up when swallowing. It is essential to the process of eating.
The muscle starts at the styloid process, a pointed part of the skull’s temporal bone, which lies just below the ear and functions as an anchor point for a number of muscles. The stylohyoid is located just in front of the digastric muscle, which lifts the tongue back when swallowing. It is perforated (run through) by a facial tendon – the digastric tendon – before it slots into the hyoid bone. The stylohyoid muscle is given instructions by the facial nerve.
Relatively few conditions affect the stylohyoid muscle. One notable one is myofascial pain syndrome, which causes severe pain in these muscles. There is no known cure to this syndrome, although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In very severe cases, injections are used to numb the affected area.