Cricopharyngeal Spasm

I had a big metal tube put down my throat a couple of weeks ago under General Anaeshetic.

I woke up gagging and unable to breathe. I had to try to choke out the words "Can't Breathe. Phlegm." at which point the doctors whipped out a sucky instrument and I could finally breathe.

Over the past ten years, I have been suffering some odd symptoms from congested sinuses, post nasal drip, tired eyes, throat tightness, sore dry throat constantly. It's like I woke up one morning with a cold that didn't go away.

Ten years I've been suffering with this until a couple of years ago, I went to see the head GP at my local surgery who just kept fobbing me off with one excuse after the other, even giving steroids for post nasal drip when a simple home made saline (salt water spray) works much better.

The Acid reflux is largely under control, the thyroxine levels are well adjusted, there's nothing I can think of to cause this problem.

So last year, I finally had my referral from my head GP to the hospital where I had a groovy time on the big X-Ray machine that tilts you all over the place while the Barium Swallow lines the inside of you to check for ulcers. I also had a camera down my throat and also went to voice therapy.

Nothing much worked.

But two weeks ago, I had my panendoscopy which thankfully shows nothing major, but there is a muscle spasm in my throat. The consultant failed to mention which muscle was spasming, but assured me nothing can be done.

Which is quite rubbish.

A muscle spasm in the throat can be caused by all sorts of things from acid reflux, to anxiety and there are a whole host of options based on what spasm it is.

From my own internet diagnosis where my throat feels better when I swallow, I suspect it is a cricopharyngeal spasm, a spasm of the esophageal sphincter.

My first attempt at a resolution, is switching from Lansoprazole to Nexium as in some cases, this is more effective at keeping acid reflux, gerd or lpr, in check helping to prevent further damage and allowing healing of any other damage more effectively. I guess it changes from individual to individual, but as I have been taking Lansoprazole for a year, I guess Nexium, or Esomeprazole would be a great idea.

After eight weeks though, Im going to push for a trial of Xanax, as a spasm can be caused by anxiety. Xanax is also sometimes used as a muscle relaxant for bad backs.

There is also Flexeril which is another muscle relaxant.

On top of this, there is warm liquid (well I drink enough tea to realise hot liquid won't work). And then the last two possibilities which I think I will draw the line firmly before, is a Botox injection in the muscle, the same Botox they inject into foreheads to stop you wrinkling your forehead and showing any kind of surprise, or finally, a small bit of surgery to effectively stretch the muscle.

I hope this post provides some useful information to anybody else in my position.



indreb said…
Hi Sjdean,

It has been a while since you posted this, and I was just wondering if any of these options worked for your muscle spasm (nexium, xanax, botox)?

I am in a similar situation, had all kinds of tests done and nothing showed up. My GP decided it was a muscle spasm, most likely caused by anxiety and stressed. I was on a benzodiazepine, which helped for a while, but it is not working for me anymore.

If you found any relief on a medication - Xanax, Flexeril, anything else - please let me know. I would really appreciate it, and I hope you are feeling better!

sjdean said…
Hi Ingrid,

Sorry for the delay in replying. I don't know where you're from, Im on the NHS. I had to write to the hospital to confirm it was crichopharyngeal spasm, but the guy reckons that this resolves itself normally after a panendoscopy.

Well, I am on Nexium which has provided some relief, but Im not entirely satisfied.

Unfortunately my GP is unwilling to try anything different and it is indeed such a fight to just try something like Xanax or Flexeril which I think over here unless you have serious serious serious problems, then these meds are seen as a bit of a black art.

A bit of a throat issue that got a little better with Nexium and a consultant surgeon which says you shouldn't be having any problems now really makes me give up.


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