Esophageal Spasm - Topic Overview
How is esophageal spasm diagnosed?
Your doctor can
often find out the cause of esophageal spasm from your medical history by
asking you a series of questions. These include questions about what foods or
liquids trigger symptoms, where it feels like food gets stuck, other symptoms
or conditions you may have, and whether you are taking medicines for
The diagnosis can be confirmed with tests, including esophagus tests (such as esophageal manometry) or a
barium swallow. Esophageal manometry uses a small tube attached to instruments (transducers) that measure pressure. A barium swallow is done using X-rays.
Other tests may be done to
find out whether chest pain may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease
(GERD), the abnormal backflow (reflux) of food, stomach acid, and other
digestive juices from the stomach into the esophagus.
How is it treated?
Treatment for esophageal spasm
includes treating other conditions that may make esophageal spasms worse, such
as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is usually treated with changes
to diet and lifestyle and medicines to reduce the amount of acid in the
Other treatment for esophageal spasm may include:
- Changing the foods you eat. Your doctor may tell you to eat
certain foods and liquids to make swallowing easier.
- Dilation. In this treatment, a device is placed down your
esophagus to carefully expand any narrow areas of your esophagus. You may need
to have the treatment more than once.
- Surgery. Surgery is sometimes used in people who
have a problem that affects the lower esophageal muscle
- Medicines. If you can't have dilation or surgery, your doctor may suggest medicines, such as botulinum toxin, to relax the muscles in the esophagus.