Esophageal Spasms - Symptom of OPCA?


Just curious.....I have been having very painful esophageal spasms and I'm wondering if this is part of the degenerative process of OPCA. Mine started about two years ago and remain under control as long as I take Baclofen. When I first started having them, I thought I was having a heart attack...very scary. Just wondering if anyone else is having the same trouble. So far, it does not seem to affect swallowing, but the pain is so bad that the last thing I want to do is try to swallow.


Yes, I have those fairly often. It definitely DOES feel like a heart attack... the first time it happened to me I was at work and ended up being carted to the hospital by the EMTs. Was in for 3 days while they ran every test they could think of on my heart; it was not my heart of course. My esophageal spasms seem to be associated with acid reflux from GERD, according to my gastroenterologist. So I try to avoid foods that trigger acid reflux. Do you have GERD?

I don’t know what causes the spasms but I’ve found that lying on one side is more comfortable than lying on the other, also that heat can help lessen the pain. We’ve been referred to a swallowing clinic in a local hospital (haven’t been yet). Also if it’s helpful I’ve come across a cookbook called “Soft Foods for Easier Eating Cookbook - easy to follow recipes for people who have chewing and swallowing problems”. It’s by Sandra Woodruff RD and Leah Gilbert-Henderson PhD. I got it from the library first and found some of the principles very helpful.

Joann I was going to suggest GERD acid reflux. My bed is propped up to help me sleep without feeling like I am going to chock. Also certain foods trigger GERD you should Google and make sure you are not eating those foods.

I have coughing fits frequently, especially after eating, Not sure what that's all about...,;o)

Hello everybody, I am fairly new to all this, I was only diagnosed about two years ago and I am still learning but the things I have learned from reading about other peoples experiences has been invaluable. I want to ask a question, lately I get so much acid reflux and coughing fits because my throat feels like it is blocked with sand and no matter how I try I cant get rid of it.

Hi Sue
I am a gastroenterologist in Florida (my daughter acquired ataxia after a mosquito bite caused encephalitis at six years of age). JoAnn and Mel are quite correct to suggest GERD as a cause of your symptoms. Isolated esophageal spasm is extremely uncommon. Most esophageal spasm is due to reflux. Baclofen can help but I would get a thorough gastroenterology evaluation including upper endoscopy (EGD) and treat any GERD issues aggressively. If you have worsening you may want to be evaluated by one of the “gurus of GERD”: Donald Castell,MD in South Carolina, Stuart Spechler, MD in Dallas, or Joel Richter, MD in Tampa.
I wish you the very best in all…
Mark Dawson, MD

Thank you all for your responses.

Mark, I do have GERD and am being treated with Prilosec, which controls it for the most part. The spasms are so strong that it made me wonder if it could be connected to the degenerative cerebellar condition that I have. I have been having some "breakthrough" spasms....not bad, but they made me wonder if the spasms are getting worse due to my cerebellar condition or the medicine is not working as well. I'll get it checked out by my doctor and see what she says.

Thanks, again, for the responses.