what do esophageal spasms feel like?

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Hayleybw2
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Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/6/2014 9:40 AM (GMT -6)   
I am scheduled to undergo manometry and 24 hour ph impedance testing May 8th and I know they are looking at esophageal motility issues as well as other measurements. My question is what do esophageal spasms feel like and for that matter what does esophageal hypersensitivity feel like?

I have (in addition to acid reflux which causes burning of my chest/back/neck and even arms) a chest pain that feels like it my chest is being squeezed. Intermittently and often in response to cold liquids so I have stopped drinking anything cold and it is happening much less. Does this sound like an esophageal motility problem?

I know that only the tests can definitively diagnose an esophageal motility problem but I just want to get the full picture if I can. I am anxious about having these tests done and I am considering putting them off at least since the chest pain and squeezing have gotten less intense since I stopped drinking anything cold. I appreciate any info regarding this, thanks!

GC1pink
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Date Joined Nov 2012
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   Posted 5/6/2014 11:53 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Hayley,

Yes this does sound as though you are having oesophageal spasms, which are usually related to a motility disorder.

Now some doctors say the spasms cause the reflux and others say the reflux can cause the spasms.

I have had 4 manometries in 2 years and I can feel every tiny spray of liquid in my chest as it feels like someone is squeezing it, I have weak acid reflux but I get a lot of it, and this has made my already weak motility worse.

I encourage you to go for the tests, as there is a chance they may be able to do something that could help you.

I have oesophageal hypersensitivity.

All the best,

Pink

[J.K.]
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Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 29
   Posted 5/6/2014 11:56 AM (GMT -6)   
You know, I was talking to my surgeon about this recently. I said I didn't have anything that felt particularly like a spasm, and he said that there were no hard and fast indicators of spasms directly, and most of what you look for is the resultant problems from them. I think you and I may be in similar boats, in a sense, and I've also had my problems lessen around the time of the tests. Have you had any other tests prior?

Hayleybw2
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Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/6/2014 2:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks very much Pink. I appreciate the info and your input. May I ask what treatments you are currently undergoing for your esophageal sensitivity and how you are doing?

Hi JK, I have had 2 endoscopies and biopsies (they were negative for H pylori) within one month of each other. The first showed severe esophagitis and the second 4 weeks later was clear. I am now off PPI's (I took them since mid February and have discontinued them for 9 days now) and had acid rebound coming off the PPIs and perhaps still having some rebound or maybe part of the original burning. Not sure.

I have no clue why I first got acid reflux all of a sudden in February when I never experienced that before and now that I am off the PPI's I do worry that whatever caused the original acid reflux will damage my esophagus again now that I am not taking the PPI's or H2 blockers. I am taking probiotics and digestive enzymes now but still eating the same which has always been pretty healthy. I don't drink, smoke or eat spicy foods and eat mainly a vegan diet. No dairy or meat.

What have you done JK and what are you planning to do in terms of testing and treatment? Also what are your symptoms if you don't mind me asking. It's all so overwhelming and the doctors really don't have the time to sit down and explain it all so that just adds to the mystery of it all. My esophageal specialist didn't even tell me if I have to fast before these tests and my appointment is not scheduled till 2:30 pm May 8th which really means I'll be lucky if they start with me at 4 pm. No way can I fast that long if I am not allowed to have fluids either. Still waiting to hear back from the doctor's office about the fasting question (and I called yesterday morning LOL).

Thanks.:)

GC1pink
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   Posted 5/6/2014 5:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Hayley,
I now have upper dysphagia from silent reflux - my upper sphincter is in a constant state of spasm and I am having Botox injected into it next week to see if that can help my upper swallowing.

My lower sphincter also spasms and it really can be painful getting food through to my stomach now. My new consultant thinks it may all be related to my reflux causing more motor disturbances, I am on huge doses of ppi's 80 mg morning and night, I was on Domperidone but it stopped working so with the recent warnings about the drug I have stopped taking it.

I have to wait until after the Botox then have another manometry and ph study and then get a treatment plan in place.

I developed a slowing down of my peristalsis last year when I was getting a lot of weak reflux and that's when the oesophageal spasms started. I can't take calcium channel blockers as I have low blood pressure but they have me on diazepam to reduce the pain and to increase the distal amplitude of the lower oesophagus.
I also find that a how water bottle on your chest works wonders.

Do let me know how you get on with your tests, and I hope that you feel better soon.

All the best,

Pink

Hayleybw2
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Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/6/2014 5:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Pink, I hope that you find much relief soon and that your repeat tests show improvement. I am so sorry you are dealing with this and thank you for all that helpful info. I am going to try the hot water bottle right now. Thanks again and sending (((hugs))) and healing vibes your way.

1039smooth
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Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2114
   Posted 5/6/2014 6:44 PM (GMT -6)   
Mine mimicked a heart attack. It's brutal. My surgeon prescribed nitrous tablets, but I avoided them and dealt. Eventually, they went away for the most part.
LapNissen Fundoplication, 8/9/13
GERD, Anxiety, Depression

Hayleybw2
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/6/2014 6:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi smooth, thanks for your response. My symptoms can sometimes feel like a heavy weight on my chest as it does at this moment. A heavy weight and squeezing. Very uncomfortable but not as bad as what you had experienced because I wouldn't categorize it as brutal. Just very unpleasant. I am glad yours went away eventually-that's wonderful!

Did you have any specialized testing such as manometry or ph impedance to diagnose what was happening?

1039smooth
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Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2114
   Posted 5/6/2014 7:35 PM (GMT -6)   
Any time one acts like it's coming on, it's worrisome. I don't think that pressure is that abnormal, but I had a Nissen done.

I didn't have any testing done in regard to this. I do know my esophagus doesn't function to full capacity right now via a barium swallow.
LapNissen Fundoplication, 8/9/13
GERD, Anxiety, Depression

Cristian
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 26
   Posted 5/6/2014 9:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Hayley, one of my symptoms is exactly like the one you've described. A tightness in my chest as if someone were twisting my esophagus from the inside. The first time I felt it was around 2008 when I drank a cold frapuccino in one big gulp. The pain lasted for about 48 hours and it was intense. At first I thought I was having a heart attack. I have had the pain infrequently since, although I did have it last week, but nothing compared to that 2008 episode

I have had 1 endoscopy that turned up nothing, 1 esophageal manometry that also turned up nothing, and I've also had the pH testing, which also turned up nothing. The pH one seems like a huge waste of time IMO, cuz it just measures acid, which I would think is the least of your concerns. I'm pretty depressed about my condition, I've had it since I was 19 (2007) and I have no idea what's wrong with me. My primary symptom, that has really bothered me is a burning sensation in my breasbone every time I swallow. I don't have heartburn usually, just the stupid swallowing discomfort, at this point I have given up on finding whatever it is I have, but if your studies turn up something, I'd love to hear since we appear to have 1 symptom in common. All my doctor has been able to tell me is that I have spasms, which is extremely vague considering the countless esophageal spasm related diseased there are. I have Kaiser and it's gonna run out when I turn 26 in September cuz of Obamacare, after that, I hope to visit UCLA Esopagheal Center, I just need to know what insurance to buy when the exchanges open. Best of luck and hope your symptoms improve

Post Edited (Cristian) : 5/6/2014 8:49:01 PM (GMT-6)


Hayleybw2
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/7/2014 4:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Cristian, I am so sorry you have been dealing with this for so long without any definitive answers :(
Have the doctors tried any medications to see if they help relieve or lesses your symptoms such as smooth muscle relaxants, anticholinergics or pain modulators or something else perhaps? I hope you find relief soon Cristian. You are young and someone will be able to help you I know it. Hang in there!

Smooth, when you say your esophagus is not functioning fully what do you mean exactly...does it affect the way you eat or your quality or life and is there anything you do that helps improve your condition? Sorry for all the questions but I am just trying to learn as much as possible about this. I never realized so much could go wrong with the esophagus.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with me and I hope you continue to improve and do well.

1039smooth
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Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2114
   Posted 5/7/2014 7:04 AM (GMT -6)   
At my barium swallow, I swallowed a pill fine when upright. If i was on my side, i couldn't, no matter how much i drank. However, i won't be eating when on my side, so i felt that point was moot. In the past week, I've had trouble swallowing when upright, so it makes no sense. The whole ordeal has affected my quality of life and the way i eat. Unsure how to improve it.
LapNissen Fundoplication, 8/9/13
GERD, Anxiety, Depression

Hayleybw2
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/7/2014 7:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I am so sorry smooth. I hope somehow you start improving and this becomes a distant unpleasant memory. (((hugs))).

ericapeace2000
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Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 1110
   Posted 5/8/2014 12:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Try magnesium daily, I used to get them, but the magnesium has helped and I no longer get them. PPIs can deplete magnesium absorbtion.
GERD Moderator; Diagnosed GERD, possible IBS; Gluten free since 2012; low lactose since 2012

Andy1986
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Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 1178
   Posted 5/8/2014 12:29 PM (GMT -6)   
I dont have experience of spasms that I know of, but my esophagus is sensitive, my ph test score was "normal" despite severe symptoms on the day. I also had no esophagus inflammation on endoscopy despite heartburn symptoms, and normal barium swallow despite my esophagus feeling very sore and heartburn like.

I found that my sensitivity decreased quite a lot over the last 18 months as my mental state improved, I have read of links between anxiety/depression and hypersensitivity and think that was a factor for me. I have read about some anti-depressents being effective in treating hypersensitivity too, even without underlying depression so its one possible route to explore.

Hayleybw2
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/8/2014 4:40 PM (GMT -6)   
ericapeace2000 said...
Try magnesium daily, I used to get them, but the magnesium has helped and I no longer get them. PPIs can deplete magnesium absorbtion.


Thanks Erica. I take 400 mg magnesium citrate in pill form. Is that enough do you think? I have discontinued PPI's for 12 days now and hope I don't have to go back on them. I just had the manometry and that went fine and should get results next week sometime. I am now trying to endure this 24 hour impedance test and I don't think I am going to make it because I am so very uncomfortable. This is much worse than the manometry test for me :((

Hayleybw2
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/8/2014 4:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Andy1986 said...
I dont have experience of spasms that I know of, but my esophagus is sensitive, my ph test score was "normal" despite severe symptoms on the day. I also had no esophagus inflammation on endoscopy despite heartburn symptoms, and normal barium swallow despite my esophagus feeling very sore and heartburn like.

I found that my sensitivity decreased quite a lot over the last 18 months as my mental state improved, I have read of links between anxiety/depression and hypersensitivity and think that was a factor for me. I have read about some anti-depressents being effective in treating hypersensitivity too, even without underlying depression so its one possible route to explore.


I'm glad you are doing so much better Andy, that's wonderful! I am a very upbeat person usually but I am a worrier and I have no doubt my worry/anxiety can exacerbate symptoms. Thanks for your input and I hope you continue to do well :)

[J.K.]
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 29
   Posted 5/12/2014 4:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry for the delayed response.

My symptoms I've documented in my own thread, but the short of it is that I just simply have pain in my lower esophagus. It's not quite an acid burn, and it's not quite a food-related thing. Simply put: it's a painful discomfort. Try explaining that one to the doctors.

I've a load of tests. Most recently, a barium swallow didn't seem to suggest any tightness, but I have a manometry coming up soon enough. It's a bit of an on-and-off affair, and my recent tests have been on "downswing" periods. I've taken a load of muscle-relaxers and am now on an anti-depressant. Either it's an incredibly difficult thing to test, or I've got something else wrong with me. The Nissen I had and the fact I've been more or less having severe problems for over 3 years only further complicated things.

Hayleybw2
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 5/12/2014 4:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi JK, I am so sorry you are dealing with this and I totally understand how frustrating it all is. So many tests and so few answers.

I feel like I have been through so many tests as well these last few months and still no closer to any answers. As I type this my chest is burning and I am just so uncomfortable.

To update this thread: I had the manometry test and 24 hour ph impedance test this past Thursday to Friday. The manometry was relatively easy for me and I completed that in less than 15 minutes. The 24 hour ph test which was supposed to be the easier test because the catheter is thinner was much more difficult for me because I was aware of the tube in my throat the whole time. My throat felt raw and every time I moved my mouth the pain radiating from the tube in my nose was not pleasant and that's an understatement lol. But I got through it and I am glad I did because each test hopefully gets me closer to what is going on with me and my body and what I can do for relief.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) the test results were normal according to my esophageal specialist. I reflux 3% of the time and no correlation to when I pushed the pain button. He called that functional heartburn.

The only number that wasn't normal (and that was just outside the normal range) was on the manometry test. I am unclear as to the measurement but my number was 17 and 16 was the cutoff. He said it is probably just a normal variant and not to worry. He was talking fast and it was Friday night so I understand he probably wanted to get out of the office and when he called me that night I was surprised because he had told me he would call the beginning of this week. I share that to explain why I understand he didn't want to spend time on the phone when my results were normal.

I called his secretary this morning and she is mailing my results from this test to me and I will update this thread then with what measurement was just slightly abnormal. I might need input at that time but for now I guess the search continues. I am taking a doctor break for a while though because the last few months have been exhausting both mentally and physically and I am trying to remain positive and hopeful and get my old personality back. I need normalcy back. I just want to start feeling better, yanno?

Thanks for all your support and I hope everyone is hanging in there and feeling well.

Best,
Hayley
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