An esophageal spasm is the abnormal muscle contractions of the long muscular tube called esophagus which connects your mouth to the stomach. Usually, in a healthy person, the contraction of the muscle coordinated with the peristaltic movement esophagus facilitates the passage of food from the mouth to the stomach. But, with esophageal spasm, the muscle contractions can be irregular, uncoordinated or sometimes powerful that restrict the passage of food normally into the stomach.
The esophageal spasms may occur very rarely and may not require any treatment. However, a frequent or repeated esophageal spasm causing blockage of food and liquids from entering into the stomach may require appropriate treatment to reduce the further complications.
The esophageal spasm symptoms include the following:
Usually, no treatment is required for esophageal spasm. But, if the spasms are frequent and cause severe squeezing pain in the chest, then you must immediately seek the medical care.
The incidence of esophageal spasm is very less. People aged between 60 and 80 years are at increased risk of developing esophageal spasms.
It is often associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease. The other factors that increase the risk of esophageal spasms include:
A change in diet and lifestyle might help you to reduce the progression or prevents the esophageal spasms. Consider the following measures:
Your doctor might recommend the treatment based on the severity, frequency, and underlying cause of the condition. The esophageal spasms treatment includes the following:Medications:To manage the underlying conditions such as GERD, your doctor might prescribe proton pump inhibitor such as lansoprazole. Sometimes antidepressants such as trazodone or imipramine are suggested to reduce pain. Sildenafil, botox injections or calcium channel blockers such as diltiazem helps to reduce the severity of contractions. Surgery:The surgical procedure used to treat esophageal spasm is called myotomy. The procedure involves removal of muscle from the lower part of your esophagus to control the contractions. Another surgical treatment involves peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM), where an endoscope is used along with myotomy. The surgical procedure is considered only when you don’t respond to any of the treatments.
Often, your doctor can identify the cause of esophageal spasms by taking a medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor might suggest any of the following tests.
The exact cause of esophageal spasms is still unknown. But, many research studies suggest that they occur due to abnormal neuronal activity that facilitates the swallowing action of the esophagus. Sometimes, the triggering factors such as consumption of drinks, hot or cold beverages, or hot or cold foods may cause esophageal spasms.
Often, the esophageal spasms occur as a result of certain conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), achalasia, and anxiety or panic attacks.
There are two major types of esophageal spasms that include: