Movement disorders of the esophagus

Movement disorders of the esophagus

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Spasm of the esophagus

The most common movement disorders of the esophagus include esophageal spasm and achalasia. Therapy in naturopathy mainly consists of measures that have an antispasmodic and calming effect.

Symptoms of movement disorders of the esophagus

In esophageal dysfunction there is on the one hand esophageal spasm and on the other hand achalasia, which differ greatly in their symptoms.

The esophageal spasm

The esophageal spasm (esophagus cramp) arises from excessive muscle contraction, usually in the middle and lower esophagus. The symptoms consist of sudden cramp-like chest pain, sometimes with radiation in the jaw, shoulder and arm, as they also occur in a heart attack (angina pectoris). In addition, there are usually swallowing disorders (dysphagia).

A reliable diagnosis can be made using imaging techniques. The x-ray shows irregular corkscrew-like deformations with pseudodiverticles and measurably increased, uncoordinated pressure (manometry).
The cause is unclear, why it is spoken of diffuse or ideopathic esophageal spasm. Older people are often affected. In contrast to achalasia, the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (esophageal sphincter) is preserved.

Often, those affected already have underlying diseases such as diabetes, collagenosis, diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, generalized muscle diseases, amyloidoses and alcoholism.


Achalasia is characterized by contractions in the lower area of ​​the esophagus, which slowly develop due to the degeneration of the nerve network (responsible for central digestive processes) (Auerbach plexus). Due to the lack of relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, which actually follows the swallowing reflex, the ingested food cannot pass completely through the esophagus. This causes the upper sections of the esophagus to widen over time, and the typical “champagne glass shape” is shown in the X-ray image.

Symptoms include swallowing disorders (dysphagia), which are only accompanied by pain at the beginning (odynophagia). In many cases, those affected have to drink after eating because the chyme “sticks”. Undigested food flows back into the oral cavity, sometimes leading to weight loss. Of the disturbance are above all Middle aged people affected. Although achalasia is a rather rare disease, it is considered a risk factor for the development of esophageal cancer. The cause is unknown in most cases, secondary to gastric carcinoma, achalasia can occur.

Conventional measures & naturopathy

In the therapy of esophageal spasm, the underlying disease is in the foreground, the cramp is symptomatic, especially eliminated with nitro preparations and calcium channel blockers. In the case of achalasia, the narrowing is also repeatedly widened by a balloon catheter, and surgery may also be required.

As a general measure, alcohol withdrawal and beneficial eating behavior are particularly recommended: Eating without time pressure, sitting and in a quiet environment, whereby smaller bites should be chewed thoroughly. The last meal should be taken as early as possible. Relaxation procedures can also be helpful, for example in the form of hypnosis, self-hypnosis, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation.

Naturally, the movement disorders of the esophagus are countered with vegetative soothing and antispasmodic measures that can reduce the symptoms. Herbal medications that have a balancing effect on the nervous system relieve the symptoms. These include, for example

  • Valerian,
  • Hops and
  • Melissa.

Homeopathic single remedies are used as well as complex remedies, which are the main remedies e.g. Ignatia, Cicuta virosa, Zincum metallicum or Curare included. The arrow poison Curare, which is made from poisonous plants of the South American rainforest, acts on the transmission of impulses between the motor nerves and muscles. Since the 1930s, Curare has been used for the treatment of spastic contractures and in operations for muscle-relaxing anesthesia; later, artificially produced agents with fewer side effects were preferred. In homeopathic preparation Curare is used today in naturopathy as an injection or in drops.

Manual therapy procedures such as osteopathy, either treat the region's nerve supply by reflex on the back or neck (phrenic nerve) or directly on the diaphragm. Here the esophagus has to go through on its way to the stomach and it is suspected that this can lead to movement restrictions. For this reason, therapists trained in osteopathy also look at those affected for connections to other complaints such as back pain, neck tension or headache. (jvs, fp, ok)

Further information

Diverticulum of the esophagus (esophageal diverticulum)
Irritable bowel syndrome (irritable colon, irritable colon)
Inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis)
Endobrachyesophagus; Barrett's esophagus

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Jeanette Viñals Stein, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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  • Amboss GmbH: Esophageal swallowing and disorders of esophageal motility (accessed: July 16, 2019),
  • Junginger, Theodor / Eckardt, F. / Hecker, Andreas: Achalasia: Often diagnosed late, but mostly treatable successfully, Dtsch Arztebl, 1996,
  • Herold, Gerd: Internal Medicine 2019, self-published, 2018
  • German Society for the Control of Diseases of the Gastrointestinal and Liver and Disorders of Metabolism and Nutrition (Gastro-Liga) e. V .: Achalasie guide, as of June 2017,
  • Mayo Clinic: Esophageal spasms (access: July 16, 2019),
  • American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: Understanding Esophageal Dilation (accessed: July 16, 2019),
  • Prof Boeckxstaens, Guy E. / Prof Zaninotto, Giovanni / Prof Richter, Joel E .: Achalasia, The Lancet, 2014,
  • National Health Service UK: Achalasia (access: July 16, 2019),
  • National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD): Achalasia (access: July 16, 2019),

ICD codes for this disease: K22, Q39ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: Esophagus (August 2022).