Esophageal Spasm

Esophageal spasm is a relatively common problem, whereby the esophageal muscles cramps (spasm) and cause a sensation of chest tightness, chest pain, a lump in the throat, or difficulty swallowing.  The primary reason this occurs is that the esophagus is hypersensitive in some people, and when they incur a lot of stress in their lives, the esophagus goes into spasm.

Many patients wind up going to an emergency room, thinking that they are having a heart attack.  Often the EKG, heart blood work and a stress test are all normal.  The patients are sent out with the knowledge that their heart is ok, but they still don’t have a diagnosis.

Esophageal spasm can occur in response to GERD, gastritis, esophagitis, or Ulcers in the stomach, esophagus or duodenum.  If can also occur because of stress or depression.  To figure out the cause, your gastroenterologist may suggest a gastroscopy (EGD) to rule out any obvious pathology as mentioned above.  If none is found, then medical treatment will be recommended with antispasmotics, sedatives or antidepressant medications.  It is usually treated successfully.