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Esophageal spasms


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#1 Margaret

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 04:58 AM

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who get esophageal spasms (ES), what triggers them? Do they only come when you are exerting yourselves (like exercise) or after eating or laying down for bed at night or do they occur randomly? I know Gareth's *heart attacks* aren't from his heart because his stress test/heart echo were normal. He is using an albuteral nebulizer before exercising but still in pain whenever he tries to run or walk fast. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Take care, Everyone.
Margaret

#2 janey

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 08:33 AM

Margaret,
I've never experienced them that I know of. We do have a couple of links on Esophageal spasms. You might find some information there.

Big Hugs,
Janey Willis
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#3 red

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 11:47 AM

Hi Margaret - I get esophageal spasms (ES) mostly when I've eaten something hard or rough, like raw vegetable (salad fixings), a too large or tough piece of meat, and sometimes my medications. I try to avoid what I can, chew very thoroughly and eat slowly, and I won't even attempt bagel, pizza, or steak anymore, not worth the pain. At worst, it's terribly painful, and even a lesser attack gives the very uncomfortable feeling of having something stuck that won't go down. Less often I get them with exertion, usually lifting. Before I had the Nissen fundoplication, I'd get ES with the more severe reflux episodes, couldn't swallow anything down during them, not even saliva. Thank goodness that's gone now!

Hope you can figure out why Gareth is having his episodes.

red

#4 summer

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 01:15 PM

Hi Margaret,

I have been suffering from esophageal spasms (ES) since diagnosis 21/2 years ago. They seem to come on randomly, I can wake up in the morning and it's there, and it can last for me up to 48 hours at a time.

It feels as though someone is trying to choke me and is sitting on my chest, and also have breathing problems, it is not very pleasant. My gastroenterologist prescribed me a low dose Nifedipine to take for the spasms. It didn't help at all.

My rheumatologist suggested that I get hemorrhoid cream to start with and rub the cream into my chest, neck area to ease the pain. If this didn't work, she would prescribe a patch that I wear, whenever these attacks occur. I have not had one for a few weeks now, so I can't tell you whether these work. Also, I mentioned this to my cardiologist, and he suggested that I purchase a blood pressure machine, to check my blood pressure, when these attacks occur.

If you need the name of the cream/patch, you are welcome to PM me.

Regards,

Summmer

#5 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 01:57 PM

Hi Margaret,

I've had some esophageal spasms. Luckily I already knew what they were, so I was not alarmed by them. For me, it feels like a charlie horse in the upper chest. They have been brought on by ice cold drinks, and foods or pills that for whatever reason felt harsh or stuck when swallowing. I'm with Red, in that the best prevention is eating slowly and chewing carefully; and for me, being a bit cautious with cold drinks.

But your comment that he gets it when walking fast or running, reminds me of what we always called a "stitch in the side". I may be wrong (I often am!) but I think those are caused by the diaphragm ligaments (or tendons? whatever) being pulled down by the weight of the liver or other organs. When I get a stitch, all I do is stop, hold the area, and press upwards (in fact, you might want to see if that is Gareth's natural reaction, too). It was a great many years before I read up on the medical cause behind it, and rather useless now as I am not very prone to running anymore. Try googling for "stitch in the side" (I don't know the medical term for it) and see what you find, if anything, and see if that fits his symptoms at all?
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
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The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#6 Margaret

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 02:54 PM

Shelley ,

Too funny...stitch in the side!!! Actually, that is a lack of oxygen to the muscles - supposedly because you aren't breathing correctly when running. Gareth's sharp pain is right smack in the middle of his chest. He clutches it there and bends over till it's gone. Last night, he broke out in a cold sweat while waiting it through. It only lasts but a few minutes....whatever it is.

Take care, Everyone.
Margaret

#7 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 04:12 PM

Hi Margaret,

Well, I'm with both Red and Shelley. Hard things will do it (there was this chunk of apple...) and cold will definitely do it. I'm sure about the cold because a drink of quite warm water will get rid of those. I had a 360º fundoplication in December 2007 and that took care of both the reflux and the spasms it caused. As far as position goes, sitting upright in a chair is most usual, sitting slouched in bed came second. I seldom get them standing or lying down. Once in a while I get them when I'm trying to weed the garden, but that might well be psychosomatic. :lol:

Poor Gareth, they really hurt. Give him a hug from me.
Jeannie McClelland
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#8 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 02:40 AM

Hi Margaret,

I finally had the time to look this up. The official name for "stitches" is exercise related transient abdominal pain (ETAP). When I was young, I know they always said it was from a lack of oxygen, however that never made sense to me because I only got them when running and not when doing endurance swimming, which surely should have taxed my oxygen supply just as much if not more because I could only run for short spurts but I could swim nearly forever.

That's why I looked up info on the stitch years later and found out that they didn't think it was due to hypoxia anymore, but rather stress on the ligaments that are attached to the esophagus. And various other sundry theories.

Here is a PubMed link about it:
Characteristics and etiology of exercise-related transient abdominal pain.

I just read in a sports article that the way to tell the difference between an attack of ETAP and a heart attack is to lie down on your back with your hips and legs elevated. It it's ETAP, the pain should be relieved very soon, but if it's a heart attack, the pain will stay.

To that I would say, yes but if it's caused or worsened by heartburn, maybe laying down wouldn't help, since sometimes I get heartburn just by laying down, especially too soon after a meal.

Anyway, even if this doesn't apply to Gareth's particular case, it is always fun to learn new things, isn't it?
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.