Tightness in throat (cricopharyngeal spasm)

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KitKat880
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 111
   Posted 10/1/2012 1:14 PM (GMT -6)   
For the past 9 months I have been suffering with a tight throat, or the feeling of a lump in my throat. At first the thought was that it was related to GERD, but I've gotten that under control and the tight throat persists. My gastroenterologist told me that my upper esophageal sphincter won't relax; he thinks it is anxiety related and I would need to follow up with my GP.
 
I went to see my GP last week, and she prescribed Klonopin .5 mg twice a day. However, it does not seem to be helping. Is .5 mg considered a very low dose? I'm to follow up with the GP next week, so do I need to ask for something a bit stronger? I know this drug can be very addicting. I don't want to be dependent on it, but I want this awful feeling to go away!
 
Anyone else suffered from a tight throat caused by anxiety and found a solution?
 
Thanks!

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 10/1/2012 7:44 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome!

I am sorry that you are dealing with this problem at the moment. This was actually my first anxiety symptom as well.

It can be really annoying!

As far as the Klonopin question, that is just something that you and your doctor should discuss together to come to the best decision for you...

I can however recommend some ideas for relaxing the muscles in your throat, and some other help for this globus problem.

First of all, progressive muscle relaxation is great for anxiety in general, and could help you to release tension in your neck. We have a link to a video in our Resource Guide (main page, 1st post) Pay special attention to the head, neck and shoulder areas. I used to let my head tilt gently backward and let my mouth hang open...holding this position for a minute or so, and repeating throughout the day.  I would also gently massage the throat area gently.

Sipping water or tea often helps to keep the throat hydrated and reduces the 'lump' feeling. Hard candies and lozenges can also help with this.

I hope that you get the help from this that you need soon. I encourage you to keep posting with us as well. We understand ane are here to listen and support!

Talk to you soon,

Scaredy Cat
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

hazelnut86
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 896
   Posted 10/4/2012 12:15 AM (GMT -6)   
me me me!! i feel like i'm losing my mind over it. the more i think about it, of course, the longer it goes on. ughhhhh going to ent tomorrow. :P

Funnybug88
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 10/7/2012 5:42 AM (GMT -6)   
I had cricopharyngeal spasm to the point I didn't think I could go on for months. I finally got prescribed Valium, which works well as long as you take huge amounts every day and don't mind dropping IQ points by the week... Still, i honestly would have considered heroin if it helped... Mindfulness meditation helped kept me somewhat sane. For me, the throat spasm came as the last in a long sequence of odd symptoms including pins and needs, clumsiness, foot pain, pain breathing in, inflamed feet, burning skin, anxiety... Turned out to be neurological Lyme disease and after 10 months on antibiotics my throat is cured!

Hibee
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2198
   Posted 10/7/2012 11:54 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi

Sorry to hear you are having these problems but I do agree with your consultant that it could be anxiety related as tightness in the throat and the feeling of a lump in throat are symptoms of high anxiety. I agree with SC about speaking with your GP re the Klonopin as you are right it can be addictive.

There are other options such as ssri's and also therapy can help with anxiety related issues CBT and mindfulness are two good therapies. I hope you feel better soon let us know how you are doing and your appointment goes with your GP.

Hibee
I try not to worry about the future -- so I take each day just one anxiety attack at a time.

ANXIETY & PANIC FORUM MODERATOR

Diagnosed with:- Asperger's Syndrome, dyslexia, gad, sad, ocd, depression, reactive arthritis and Scheuermann's Disease (Adult)

KitKat880
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 111
   Posted 10/10/2012 5:08 PM (GMT -6)   
I just had my first appointment with my psychiatrist and she gave me three medications to take. They are Celexa (she thinks I have low grade depression), Flexeril, and propranolol. I asked her about increasing my dosage of Klonopin because it seemed to be at least a little bit effective, but she didn't want to do that. She also asked me how much I had left and when I pulled the bottle from my purse, she took it and counted the pills, which I found a bit insulting. I am not abusing it!!!

Tomorrow I am scheduled for cognitive behavioral therapy, and I'm not sure how that is going to help since all of this stems from a very physical symptom, but I guess I'll give it a try. I'm then to follow up with the psychiatrist in two weeks.

So far it doesn't seem that any of these medications are doing anything. I feel so hopeless.

pocketfull
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 350
   Posted 10/11/2012 7:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Kitkat, I feel for you. My dear Mom suffers with that feeling and has for years. She has sjogrens syndrom, produces no moisture in mouth or eyes. She just has to have her bottle of water with her at all times. She has tried everything. Finely, when given valium for another problem, her throat is better. After years and years of horrific rectal pain and countless doctors, a woman dr. finely tried the valium to just relax her, what a wonderful shock for her and my sisters and I. She has had this pain for 20 years and has tried everything, including 2 surgerys. So, now her throat and her rectum are so much better.....All of her internal organs are affected by the body not producing moisture. She is just drying up. She is a little spit fire at 81 and can do circles around me.......I dont have the lump, I have spasmodic dysphonia that causes me difficulty to speak words that can be understood. A month ago I got up one morning, tried to say good morning to my dear Dog Bud and had no voice at all. lasted 5 days. No sore throat, just in such spasm I could not force any sound out. I hope you are better soon and not too uncomfortable. Maybe your doc will try Valium with you. Let us all know.....Hugs...Cathy
I am 61 years young. I have neuropathy in both feet and hands. I have spinal stenosis and arthritis in my back. I am bipolar and with panic attacks. I cannot walk. I choose to stay home all the time. I love living in the country. Its very peaceful.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 10/11/2012 11:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi KitKat:)

I am sorry to hear that you are still having trouble with this...but glad that you are starting CBT!!! It is amazing, but gaining the tools through therapy does eventually lessen the physical symptoms! It takes some time, so be patient, but it is worth it.:)

I am sorry about the pill counting experience.:( I would have felt the same way initially...but try not to take it personally. Doctors see all kinds of things, and know that people are very clever when it comes to dependency/addiction issues...she doesn't know you well enough to be sure that you are not one of the many people who are abusing their Rx..she probably does this as routine to every patient.

Let us know how your session goes if you feel like sharing.:)
...and keep posting with us...we will be here cheering you on!

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

KitKat880
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 111
   Posted 10/12/2012 11:04 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the support!!! I had my first therapy session yesterday and I think it went really well. We talked about the issues that I've been struggling with and did a grounding exercise, which was interesting. I have a lot of trouble clearing my mind and focusing, so I thought I was going to be terrible at the exercise, but I did ok.
 
As for my throat, the lump is not going anywhere. Oddly enough, peppermint lifesavers seem to help a bit. I wish I could chew gum, but I have invisalign braces, so that's out for now. Sometimes I think this throat thing is all in my head and I've forgotten what a normal swallow is supposed to feel like.
 
I'm going to try to think positive and give my psychiatrist and therapist a shot, but part of me just wants to beg my GP to refer me to a thoracic surgeon so I can have this throat muscle cut.

lorrie328
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 1/3/2013 2:55 PM (GMT -6)   
KitKat:
I have had this problem for years. A good chiropractor helps A LOT! The spasms in the throat can be caused by your muscle tension relayed from neck and/or shoulder part of the spine being "out". Also, a BIG one that helped me loads - over the counter Valerian root. It is a natural relaxant and makes a WORLD of difference for me! Also - have your thyroid levels checked. Hope this helps!

stacey77
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 109
   Posted 1/11/2013 8:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Your throat is sensitized from the GERD....now it might just spam without actually having reflux. I'mgoing through the same thing. eating causes tightness, tingling, and swelling. MY GI put me on zoloft for nine weeks. Apparently there is a component in it that desensitizes. gooduck:)

blkcat1973
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 1/29/2013 8:43 PM (GMT -6)   
I too have been suffering with cricopharyngeal spasms for a couple of years now. Started off feeling like I had a popcorn hull stuck in my throat that I couldn't get rid of. Sometimes it even made me gag. After a few days, I also started to feel as though I had someone's hands around my throat, making it somewhat difficult to breathe. Strangest thing is that these spasms go away temporarily when I eat. I went to the ENT, and he didn't see anything, just a little redness (probably from smoking). Then I was sent on to see a neurologist. I have since been diagnosed with Isaac's Syndrome. I'm sure they are related, however I do not know what to do to relieve the symptoms of the throat spasms. I am currently on muscle relaxers, and anti-anxiety medications (Clonazapam) 3xdaily. Nothing ever seems to get rid of them completely.
I have, however, found that drinking hot tea with honey and lemon help, as do Altoids/Tic Tacs. Strange, but whatever helps, I will continue to use these things until I find something better. I have also found that placing a heating pad on my neck helps to relax the muscles in my throat. Again, a temporary fix, but if if helps, why not try it.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 1/29/2013 11:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi blkcat and welcome!

Thank you for sharing the things that have helped you to experience relief from your symptoms. I am sure that others will find it helpful in their own situations as well.

I wish you the best in treating the Issac's Syndrome and the anxiety and invite you to post with us anytime.

We are here to listen and support, so stick with us if you find it helpful!

Talk to you later.:)

Scaredy Cat
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

amv
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/15/2013 3:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey everyone, for the past month I have been reading your posts to gain some information on real experiences regarding this condition.
I have a suspicion that I am sufferring from this, and I hope I am right because that would finally give my mind peace.

I have an upcoming appointment with an ENT Specialist and I cannot wait for that day to come :)

I have been experiencing so many of the symptoms listed such as trouble swallowing, a feeling of lump or ball in the throat, feeling of choking or drowning, trouble breathing (which I think is related to the anxiety), trouble swallowing my saliva, symptoms worsen at night (and after I sing) and so much more.

I'm hoping its just this and nothing serious.

I have been so scared to drive alone for the past few weeks with the fear of fainting in the car. It is so embarrassing when I have to call my partner to pick me up from work in his car. Luckily he is wonderful and understanding.

Just recently I started taking these lozenge type things called 'Rescue Remedy Pastilles' and I do believe it works in terms of calming me down.
I have been able to drive home for the whole week without having a panic attack. Everytime I feel like I am going to panic I pop one in my mouth and in an instance I feel sane again.

I really do recommend it :)

I work in a Pharmacy and I have tried a few medications, one after the other, and I never thought this natural remedy would work the best!

The doctor has put me on Somac (which aggravated my symptoms) and I even tried Nexium, Pariet as well as anti biotics (as the doctor thought it was a sinus infection).

I am so excited to see the ENT and I hope I find an answer to this scary condition! My heart goes out to everyone who is going through the same thing as me. It is so scary and can be so depressing at times. Especially when no one really understands what you are going through and how hard it is to relax when you feel like you're choking on something that's not there.

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all of your experiences. When I realize that I am not alone it gives me strength and hope.

Also, thank you for reading my post :)

Much love <3

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 2/15/2013 10:43 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi amv and welcome!

I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with this at the moment. It is not a symptom that can easily be ignored, seeing as how we swallow hundreds of times a day!

May I ask if you have had trouble with either anxiety or GERD in the past? You mentioned panicking...have you suffered actual panic attacks?

I ask because as you probably know, both anxiety and GERD...or both in conjunction could certainly bring on the tight throat issues.

It is great that you are seeing the ENT. If you get an all clear from him/her, then you can probably safely assume that you can focus on lowering the anxiety for relief from this.

You can actually start now by practicing some relaxation and breathing exercises. If you need some instructions for these, we have the video links to some good ones in our Resources. (main page, 1st post)

Please keep us updated as to what you find out, and how we can support you through this time.:)

Talk to you soon,

Scaredy Cat
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

amv
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/17/2013 3:41 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello :)

There have been times when I thought I could not breathe because of this which causes me to hyperventilate and feel nauseous, however when I do calm down I feel much better.

Sometimes I do get quite gassy and my stomach feels bloated and uncomfortable, but I don't know if it is GERD yet.

I have done an endoscopy and they did not find anything. Even checked for H Pylori and still negative. I am hoping it is just something like silent reflux, or an allergy.

I will keep you updated :)

amv
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 3/6/2013 2:16 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone,

I finally went to the ENT specialist today and my doctor stucka tube down my nose and looked at my throat.
Three days before todays appointment I have been eating carelessly and drinking lots of coke and coffee because I wanted to be in the worst state possible when they did the test, in case they overlooked it.

My doctor said that my throat looked normal and everything as fine. He prescribed Nexium. I probably won't go on the Nexium. He said it could be due to muscle spasm, or most commonly reflux so I have decided to combat this reflux naturally, without relying on prescribed medication.

I must say, I have my peace of mind back and my eating has improved. The doctor was also very laid back about the situation so I guess if he isnt too worried about it, I shouldnt be too.
He did tell me 'Dont worry you wont choke to death'.


If you all want some great advice, my bf showed me this doctor on Youtube who provides a more alternative solution to these types of problems. His name is Dr Leonard Coldwell. He certainly is worth taking a look at as he is not like other mainstream doctors who recommend prescription drugs straight away.

I hope you all find your peace of mind too!

Much love xox

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 3/6/2013 10:34 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi amv:)

I am glad to hear that your test went well, and that it has given you some peace of mind!

I hope that you continue to improve and that this symptom is soon a thing of the past for you.

Thanks for the suggestion on youtube...I will check it out and see what he has to say.

Be bell and post anytime.

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

mbwell77
New Member


Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/11/2013 4:09 PM (GMT -6)   
I can relate to a lot of this. Almost 2 months ago I started getting acid reflux symptoms (have had it in past) and I took Protonix but wouldn't go away. When I stopped taking protonix I felt a little better. I constantly feel like I have a lump in my throat. It varies in comfort.Also, when I lie down and go to sleep it goes away and I am able to rest. When I wake in the morning it is usually gone but then comes back within in a few minutes to 1/2 hour. I do have burning in my throat too. I also at times have difficulty swallowing. I realized a few days ago when I was eating that I didn't feel it and thought that was odd until I read this. I started taking Prilosec 3 days ago but it isn't helping and I have this weird side effect of feeling like I have a sunburn on my face. When I relax a little it does feel a little better. It is so frustrating to have this. I have times when I feel like the way you feel when the altitude changes (clogged up feeling) and that is when I want to press down on my throat and clear it all away.
Amy I was touched by your email and hope things have got better for you.

Thank you for listening. smilewinkgrin

Post Edited (mbwell77) : 5/11/2013 3:12:51 PM (GMT-6)


mbwell77
New Member


Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/11/2013 4:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Forgot to mention, I have a doctor appointment on Thursday and am going to ask them to refer me to ENT. Wish me luck

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 5/11/2013 6:40 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi mbwell and welcome!

Is your C.S. due to the reflux, anxiety or both? If you do struggle with anxiety that fuels this issue...we have a great Resource Guide with lots of self-help ideas that you can employ at home. The breathing and relaxation exercises (video links) are especially helpful.

Keep posting with us if you find it helpful...and good luck at your appointment! Let us know how it goes.

Scaredy Cat
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

mbwell77
New Member


Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/11/2013 7:08 PM (GMT -6)   
I am not sure that I have C.S. but I match a lot of the symptoms. I will talk to doctor about it and see what she has to say. I do have anxiety and was prescribed ativan. I rarely take it but am thinking of trying it to see if it helps. I also have soma which relaxes me but also makes me very sleepy.

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 13518
   Posted 5/11/2013 8:29 PM (GMT -6)   
Okay, wait and see what the doctor says of course...but you can work on your coping skills from an anxiety angle until then to help reduce the symptoms. (and see if your meds bring relief)

Keep posting!

S.C.
Moderator:Anxiety/Panic

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT

KitKat880
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 111
   Posted 5/13/2013 8:37 PM (GMT -6)   
It's been a while since I last posted. In the beginning of April, at the recommendation of my ENT but against by GI doctor's advice, I finally had surgery for my acid reflux. I'm still on a modified diet; I can't have bread, most meat, or anything carbonated, but I'll live. I'm burping fairly frequently, but I no longer can feel food or liquid coming back up into my throat.

The bad news is that I'm still experiencing these spasms in my throat. My surgeon thinks it will go away on it's own eventually, but I'm tired of playing the waiting game. I still have some klonopin left over from the prescription my GP wrote for me last fall, so last night I decided to try an experiment, as my throat was really bothering me. Instead of taking the .5 mg dose I was told to take, I took 1 mg. I know, I know, I did not follow doctor's orders. But within 15 minutes, the lump in my throat was gone, as if it had never existed. I was so relieved that I cried. Then I thought about something my GI doc said over a year ago. "I could give you muscle relaxants, but I don't want to do that." So I suffered unnecessarily for 16 months because he didn't want to do something that could have helped me. It made me so upset and angry that I used my pillow as a punching bag for a few minutes.

This week I have a follow-up with my surgeon. I know prescribing this kind of medication is not exactly in his lane, but I have an established relationship with him and I refuse to see another psychiatrist for a physical ailment who is going to look at me like I'm a drug seeker because the drug that makes me feel better happens to be a controlled substance. The idea that people who need these kinds of medications can't get them because other people abuse the system really is absurd and aggravating. What do you say to a doctor to convince them that you aren't one of these people? Seems ridiculous to say, "I know you don't know me, but I have no intention of abusing this drug. I've never taken any kind of illegal drugs or so much as smoked a cigarette...."

So... I guess I'm happy that I found something that works but worried that I'm not going to have access to it. If that's the case, I guess it's on to experimenting with herbal remedies (which can be scary in it's own way).

Post Edited (KitKat880) : 5/13/2013 7:40:11 PM (GMT-6)


stefanina
New Member


Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/23/2013 11:17 AM (GMT -6)   
i have also had cricopharyngeal spasms for a total of 6 years. i have had it on and off depending on my anxiety levels and my environment. unfortunately, i have also tried taking more benzos than prescribed because it got to the point where i would sell my soul to the devil to make them stop. i realized that the second i swallowed any (valium, ativan, klonopin, xanax,) benzos that worked within minutes it was all in my head and i just needed relief. the truth is its all in your mind and you can control it depending on how lucky you are. i relocated, changed jobs, went to ent, nyc throat drs, allergists, gastros, therapists, psychs and my spasms went away--without medicine, by eliminating coffee and alcohol (anxiety inducers) and here i am. my work environment drastically changed recently and the people i was around became abuse and toxic. much like most work places. my throat spasms are back due to dread and failure. sucks to know i cant do anything about it but wait and change careers--which is probably the most stressful of all.
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