Is this pain an oesophageal spasm, acid reflux, or a combination of both?

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I've had Achalasia for almost 10 years now, and I am trying to get some questions answered.  Anyway, I am wondering about this pain that I get maybe every two weeks or so.  It is a very severe pain.  I feel it all over my chest, and sometimes in my neck and head.  When I first started experiencing this pain, I would drink a couple glasses of water and it would go away.  Now, it is harder to get it to go away.  Water does help but only temporarily.  I've started to eat full packages of saltine crackers when this happens, and I feel like that helps.  It still takes a while to go away though.

Anyway, I don't know if this is a muscle spasm or a very very severe acid reflux, or maybe a combination of the both.  Do you guys have any insights on this? Also what do you take when you have muscle spasms and/or acid reflux?


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31 Replies

  • Posted

    Another couple of things that have helped me that might help others:

    Start a food diary of when you take your pills..what foods you do good with..

    How much comes up can share this with doctor too..but its mainly for you..keep track of your weight too.

    Taking your mulit-vitamin everyday is also IMPORTANT to supplement those bad days.

    The way the milk trick works is it will hurt..but try your best to force it past the sphincter..give up if too painful..try 2-3 times..sometimes by my third try I sense a little went down..and all of a sudden 4th opens it up..and that is but not too much your stomach is small now.

    Also how do you know if something gets past sphincter?

    That is determined by your output...very little or either shows where you are weak and need to keep trying even if you are failing.

    But after 3-4 times I usually even give up and try next meal.

    This is a very expensive disease..and requires trying a little of this..that ..

    I sometimes eat starwberries,,grapes..also marshmellows help me fill the void of hunger.Then I try crackers w/ cheese.....then a soup..then chocolate..milk..and fluids always. All of this in one sitting...just a little of each not too much.

    I am scared someone might suffocate and die with milk trick so try to force it but recognize the pain and stop when no success.

  • Posted

    I think we have to be careful in this discussion to differentiate between Achalaia type 3, where spasms accompany swallowing (from what I've heard, I have type 2) and spasms that come on at times other than swallowing.  For me, spasms tend to occur in the mornings before eating or drinking anything.  They can also come on at any time of day.  I think this condition may be called Diffuse Esophageal Spasms and some believe that this condition either leads to Achalasia or is an early symptom. Doctors seems particularly ignorant of the connection.  So, Aaron, which type do you have?  
    • Posted

      I have heard people mention types of achalasia. What types are there? I cant find this info online and my docs have never mentioned types....
    • Posted

      I will try to ask my doctor too...but mine is still under investigation and I have to redo my tests before surgery....Grrr.

      Not that I want surgery..I will keep fighting without.

      Thanks for heads up on clarification. I am a new patient..old victim.

      Been fighting mine for all these years without doctors.


    • Posted

      There are some notes from a 2013 meeting - google The Oesophageal Patients Association (then The Oesophagus - Achalasia):

      Achalasia Types

      (but the classifications are not always very clear cut)

       Classical Type I

       Compression Type II

       Vigorous Type III


      Lack of peristalsis (muscle contractions).

      Failure of relaxation of LOS

      Compression achalasia:

      Ineffective, asynchronous (uncoordinated) peristalsis

      Failure of LOS relaxation.

      Vigorous achalasia:

      High amplitude peristalsic spikes

      Asynchronous / vigorous contractions in oesophagus)

      Failure of LOS relaxation

      Surgeons are wary of putting too much emphasis on what type it is, and I have seen Type 1 described as absent peristalsis;  Type 2 - pan-oesophageal pressurisation;  Type 3 Spastic Achalasia - preserved peristalsis with simultaneous contractions.

      There are also motility disoorders that are not achalasia.

      I realise that this does not answer your question in any way that you would have wanted, but it does emphasise the importance of concentrating on your own signs and symptoms and being aware that what works for some may not work for others.

    • Posted

      Hi Amy.  You are right.  Judging be Alan's post, I think I have either I or II, or somewhere in between.  Yeah my spasms sometimes occur in the mornings, especially after I have cereal and milk for breakfast.  I find that eating toast is the best breakfast for me.  My spasms also can occur any time of the day.  
  • Posted

    One resource I've found very helpful is a facebook group called Living with Achalasia and monitored by a doctor (chiropractor) named Steven Horwitz who has Achalasia.  He has also written a book that is full of information about types, treatments, alternative methods, etc.  I would recommend joining this and downloading this free book. 
  • Posted

    Aaron, it can be both because I have had both. I was able to get the acid under control with diet but the spams I can't track and figure out the trigger. I know that there must be one but look as time goes on depending on where you are in this horrible disease they could both get better with a little changing in diet. I promise this has been the hardest for me yet but we have to stick together to find out what works. Thinks of you all Jamie
    • Posted

      So, Jamie, you say the pain can be both but it sounds to me like what you're saying is that your spasms are independent of acid reflux.  If that's true then there's another trigger or triggers that bring on the spasms and acid reflux has nothing to do with it.  Or are you saying that you think the relfux was one of those triggers?  Have you noticed a reduction in spasms since you've treated your acid reflux?  
  • Posted

    Aaron, I am having trouble getting my info to you on this page but here goes again. I have type 3 Achalasia with Dysphagia and nutcracker spasms. I hope this helps you to understand where I am at with my disease. I am quite acclimated to it not because of Doctors but because of books that I have read and friends like yourself. In fact my Upper GI Dr. Bacically said that your on your own because he can't support it! Lol we know more than the Docs here and it's true dedication by people that have been there and done that. Let me know how you are and if you have other questions thanks Jamie
  • Posted

    Thanks for starting this thread, it's produced some helpful responces.

    I've had achalasia for about 8 years, diagnosed for 6.

    Also suffer a similar chest type pain every two weeks or so. Sometimes when I cough or make sudden body movements it can bring it on.

    For me drinking cold water works every time.

    Although a couple of years ago when I had food poisoning and had been vomitting quite a lot, I had a similar pain for 12hrs, and cold water had no effect. Don't know if there is some sort of connection, but thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone had similar experiences and could establish some sort of connection.

    I tend to avoid drinking milk and other dairly products (have to make an exception for cheese now and again though). I find they produce mucas in my Oesophagus and make the whole swallowing process much harder.

    No intention at the moment in having surgery, just trying to eat heathy and eliminate foods that cause problems. Stress definitely plays a big part in my achalasia, so constantly trying to relax and not be stressed out or rushing at meal times.


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