Oesophageal Patients Association
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oesophegeal spasms ?

hi, i have a compressed oesophagus , not from cancer ,but this site is the closest site for help i can find .and have kindly been told on here i share similar problems eating wise .

my question is could what i am feeling be spasms . these when i first had them fifteen years ago , went on to massive heart palpitations and casuitly on several occasions , to be told i was having a panic attack . heart checks confirmed few missed beats but all ok . after diagnosis of marked extremes of compression , i now know it is really my oesophagus and can remain calmer through them .most times its a spasm flutter feeling up my breast bone , that can last just a couple of minuits , but last night they went on for eight hours , usually my husband drives me around in the car while i drink hot water and try to relax ,the panic years are hard to shake off .. but last night after four hours ! we had to give up and i just came to bed and suffered them . then my stomach gurgeled and growled like it does when really hungry and they just stopped .

does anybody else get these symptoms ? as they lasted so long this time , after a while i did manage to be completly calm and the sensation was of a grip / flutterfrom my stomach setteling in the base of my neck with a tightening ,feels hard to breath but i can as i didnt pass out .i tried all my usual coping , hot water cold water , ice cream . gaviscone ++ and rennie , it was after the rennie that it did stop but could have been coincidence .

eating latley had become so stressfull that i havent been getting enough food down i know , today i hope to finally pick up my nutrasip meal replacements to help . spoke on the phone to diatitian at hospital who prescribed .when i saw the gp yesterday she just couldnt seem to take in how much i am strugeling with this , she said its so rare that there isnt a place for me or a clinic where i can be sent for help .i showed her a picture we took from the screen at the hospital of the compression and i asked if it was severe or just mild and was told she didnt know but it looked quite a small space ,

after diagnosis by ent ,i said so soup and ice cream it is , and he said yes , but im not finding it a simple as that . i seem to be able to have two table spoons of food , pureed or chewed untill its disintergrated in my mouth .before it feels blocked and this then takes two hours to go down , i know when it does as i get the gurgle like a blocked plug ,any more and the spasms set off ,so i really just prefere liquids at the moment to avoide the spasms . the comment from the radiographer , im not suprised you cant eat solid foods , you can barly get liquids down , ie the barium ! does stick in my head a bit .

i am so aware that there are people on here coping with much worse diagniosis and im sorry if this sounds trivial , bit if spasms are a common symptom , i would really appreciate knowing how anyone else copes with them .

wishing everyone as good a health day as they can have .

11 Replies

Hi feebee1993 we have spoken before in chats, i really dont think your medical condition is trivial and it is very frightening when we have to suffer things we are not used to and we then have to bring in our own coping mechanisms, i know most0 of my symptons are very alike yours and and i am yet to receive my diagnosis i had my barium swallow meal 3 days ago and still suffering the after effects of that, but i too have heart palps and they do scare the life out of you, mine too was put down to anxiety when all formal tests had been done and they come back normal, apart from a d dymer test thay was raised due to inflammation they said? But when i get the palps mine only last around 1 min max but i just let it happen and go with the flow now ,i lnow harder said and done with your case as they last longer. Sorry that you are struggling to find anyone that can say "yes i have that too" there has too be other people, although there are lots of people on here with very alike symptons who can give excellent advice and also a calming word. I' m just hoping they find something on my xray and not just my hernia as you know its a hell of a long road to follow when they say all clear and then you have to go down the next line of enquiries. i keep reading your post over and thinking that is me, if you were to list all your symptons before diagnosis i would tick most of them, is breathlessnes one of your symptons? as this is one of mine. Just out of interest are you in the uk? Also your diagonosis is this very recent and you are still coming to terms with it.im sure if you follow this site regulary someone else is bound to get the same diagnosis as you. I will keep you informed of my outcome of barium.


hello again and thank you for the reply .

you are so right on every account , i couldnt believe how long the spasms went on this time , and like you if i knew what was going on it would help . if someone could say this is what is happening when you get them my imagination wouldnt work overtime . i have been ok since friday night .finally managed to get the nutrasip drinks . spoke to diatitian on the phone who prescribed them ,said 600 calorie ones twice a day and could up it if i wasnt managing any other food .had to see gp to get prescribed , was not interested in what i was managing to eat and i still have not been weighed .but prescribed the drinks . when i got them it seems i have been prescribed two a day at 600 calories total ,

on good days i can still manage thin soups and yogerts but as i have come to reaolise being relaxed to eat is a massive part of the eating process , and on the really stressy days i just cant get food down . the diatitian , i only spoke to on the phone was lovely and said i obviously needed full meal replacements for the fibre and for other key eliments i am missing on such a restricted diet .he reasured me on the 1200 calories i would be getting the right amount and anything on top of that was a bonus . i will ring and see if i can speak to the diatitian aagain on monday and confirm he has only prescribed the 600 a day .

but all more hastle when i really dont feel up to it . i have to say before all this i was a really always busy person and i really want to get my energy levels back and be able to walk my dogs again etc .i do get very short of breath like you and at the moment i cant even do stairs ,but again when i have mentioned this i was told , well you are breathing all right now ... so not very helpfull .

yes i am in the uk and in an area where our hospital is one of those in financial mess or whatever its called ,so i think a lot of decisions are financial .

i had to pay and go privatly to get my tests for my diagnosis ,as my husband is disabled ,work accident fifteen years ago i am his full time carer. we have a very small income . our once a year self catering holiday in scotland will have to wait a couple of years . but a small price to pay for actually being able to prove to my surgery that i do have a blockage .

i know i need to really change my gps , and i will when i have the strength for another battle but in our town the surgeries are all joining together so my options are few and when i ask people they say they have the same lack of care where they are . im sure there are some very good gps out there i just need to find one !

im sorry to hear you are still not over the barium test yet , it does have a very blocking action doesnt it ! i felt like my inners were creating little clay models lol .but like me you will be so relieved when you get a diagnosis .


Hi Feebee and Rmichelle. I have very similar symptoms it seems. I also have this spasm + heart palpitation duo. Can you describe what each feels like?

My spasms are a one off occurence. They are a contraction/flutter in my breastbone area. Never could know whether they originate from my oesophagus/stomach or heart (I would tend to believe more from my stomach). Is that what you also feel?

In terms of palpitation, I would feel "radiating anxiety" from my breastbone area which lead to acceleration of the heart. The acceleration is constant and there is a ramp up timing. If I sit down or bend forward, it would stop the palpitation somehow.

Hope we will find what this is eventually!


hi , in my case they feel like you describe a quick flutter up the chest ,culminating in a flutter in the throat and a tightening .i would just get the one run as it were but that would send my heart missing a beat and then a full blown panic attack. i would feel it bending over or lifting something heavy . my husband gets them too and he has reflux . i found quite a lot of other peoples experiences of the same on gerd and reflux help groups .


Oh my God. You are the first person I find who may have the same issue. Do you feel very fatigued after? I also have a problem maintaining my weight.


yes i feel quite past it after , but i think most people do after a distressing episode .my weight is falling off me now but otherwise no i was actually a little overweight ,


Hi there nomorebusheries sorry for late reply, i think feebee described them spot on, thats exactly how i would have put it, they are scary and you are right in thinking oh my god is it my heart? Then it sends you into a panic. My symptons are very similar to feebees. Food getting stuck in throat, palps, spasms,acid reflux, shortness of breath, discomfort when food eventually does reach upper stomach area. I was diagonised 5 years ago with a hiatus hernia and gerds, so i think things have worsened, tried omeprazole which helped with food going down but side effects horrendous, ive had barium xray 1 week ago and waiting for results and endoscopy booked for next friday. its just a long battle to find out what is wrong with us! But this site does give excellent advice and you know you are not the only one going through a tough time as thete are many people on here who have been througj the worst times ever and come out fighting.best wishes.


Thank you for taking the time to post this, and it does indeed sound like spasms. Most of what I know is connected with achalasia, where these problems are not uncommon. The spasms can be caused by the pressure of food in the oesophagus twanging the nerves and muscles; or sometimes by reflux; or sometimes by other causes. Which probably does not sound very helpful, but tension and anxiety can make them worse.

I am glad that you have had a barium swallow test, as that will have given a picture of what is happening. The issue then is about the cause of this 'compression'. Sometimes an X ray looks like severe narrowing and is referred to as a bird's beak image.

Have you had an endoscopy? This is a miniature camera placed down your throat, and it would give a picture of whether there are any physical problems present. The other tests would be manometry, which measures the pressure exerted by the muscles controlling the peristalsis (swallowing function through your system), and pH acid monitoring to work out whether you have a reflux problem. There are quite a number of causes of this sort of problem and the doctor was quite right to say that it is rare.

I would try and get a referral to an experienced Upper GI (gastrointestinal tract) surgeon to see whether there are any option for treatment. Some people get a dilatation, or stretch, to enable food to pass through better, but I can imagine a surgeon sucking their teeth and wondering whether this might cause you spasms, and whether these spasms might be short term with some longer term benefits.

There is a picture of a 'bird's beak' barium swallow test in 'A Patient's Guide to Achalasia' that you can download from the OPA website.


There is a meeting to discuss spasms on Monday 4 September at 5.30pm at the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in St John's Wood, London and you will be very welcome to join us if you are able to. It would be helpful if you notified your intention to come through the Meet Up group, details of which are also on the same page of the website.

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hello alan , thank you so much for the explanation , it does sound like what i am experiencing and an explanation is very helpfull ,i was a bit upset before the event . lack of energy is very frustrating .i had lifted a couple of pots in the garden ,they were not heavy ,but bending and lifting anything heavier than my handbag at the moment gives me symptoms .

i agree achalasia is the closest condition out there to mine and i got a lot of infomation from achalasia sites . looking up birds beak oesophagus ,mine is not as restricted as that thankfully .

i was diagnosed by an ent consultant ,i asked if i should be seen by oesophagus consultant but was told no, it would be thorasic surgeons as the only treatment is open heart surgery to relocate the abherrent artery and as i was told you dont want that ! which i dont . the ent said he had spoken to a gi colleague to ask if there was any more advancment in treating lusoria , perhaps a stent and he said no just the heart surgery . i did ask if there was anything i could have to lessen the spasms and again was told no as there side effects are worse . i have seen some people mention buscopan on some sites ,so may ask the chemist about them .i think they are a general over the counter antispasmodic .i am on gaviscone for acid which he could see had caused inflamation in my throat,but i refeused ppi because it made me dizzy when on them in the past and recent research of long term use .i have beta blocker for stress .i have not had a pressure test .

i would be very interested in the meeting about spasms and hope you will post any information gathered on here after it .thank you for the invite to attend , but i live a fair way away and at the moment a trip to the local shop is a challange !

hopefully the nutrasips will help . explanation of things twanging muscles is reasuring, and a much better idea to have in your mind than heart problem thoughts .


update re spasms , well after the spasms starting again on sunday tea time i finally went to casuilty .had ecg and bloods etc both fine , but the spasms were from my stomach to neck with increasing pressure .i was given buscopan usually used for ibs but casuilty doctor said it is given for a lot of spasm pains now .it did calm them a bit but not remove them . so today i have been resting and learning to cope with this rollercoaster that seems to be useing my oesophagus for fun ! he couldnt say why they were happening but has encouraged me to look at surgery referal and found me a specalist in my condition to contact .


Hi feebee its so scary isnt it all these palps and spasms, like you i took myself to emergency room few weeks back and i too had my heart tested and bloods, nothing was found. But as you know my symptons are very much like yours, i am still waiting results on my barium xray that was done 1 week ago, i might just call consultants secretary today to see if results are back. In meantime i have endoscopy booked for next friday aswell. It's such a long battle isnt it to find out what is wrong, i think for me getting a diagnosis is the key forward. its good news for you finding a consultant who will help you. Yes i can imagine how you feel with the spasms as mine too radiate in the same place, i just say to myself now "come on bring it on" the thing that gets me is the shortness of breath, doc gave me blue inhaler to help control it, im sure something is pressing on my windpipe? I will have to try buscopan to see if that helps me. I thought alan gave you some very good advice he is full of knowledge as too many other people on this site are and also an inspiration of going through the worst times ever and coming through the other end fighting fit! Best wishes.

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