What is a cricopharyngeal spasm?


Quick Answer

A cricopharyngeal spasm is a condition in which the cricopharyngeus muscle, which is a ring of muscle that goes around the upper esophagus, is overly contracted, according to Bastian Medical Media for Laryngology. A cricopharyngeal spasm does not cause harm, but it sometimes produces the feeling of a lump in the throat.

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Full Answer

The cricopharyngeus muscle is always contracted, except during swallowing, when it relaxes to allow food or drink to enter, according to Bastian Medical Media for Laryngology. In patients with a cricopharyngeal spasm, the cricopharyngeus muscle relaxes normally during swallowing, but it contracts too much while in its usual state of contraction. Patients with this condition sometimes develop symptoms, including feeling like something is stuck in the throat or experiencing a choking sensation. Symptoms sometimes intensify during stressful situations or at the end of the day.

The main treatment for a cricopharyngeal spasm is reassurance, according to Bastian Medical Media for Laryngology. Most patients feel better after they are aware of their diagnosis and are reassured that it is a harmless problem. Often, the symptoms disappear following the diagnosis. For persistent problems with a cricopharyngeal spasm, doctors may suggest a consultation with a speech pathologist or a physical therapist to practice neck relaxation exercises.

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