In addition, we know that people with fibromyalgia have problems with their nervous system. An NIH study found that patients with fibro had significantly more neurological abnormalities than a control group. If fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the nervous system, as many doctors suggest it is, then it could be causing a breakdown between the nerves that control the esophagus and the brain.
This would explain why people with fibromyalgia have a hard time swallowing. Their brain can’t control the muscles in the esophagus as it normally would. But until we know more about the condition, we can’t say for sure what the link is.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to treat the condition.
The first step in treatment is a diagnosis. The most common way to diagnose the condition is with an imaging test, like a barium X-ray. Essentially, the patient drinks a contrast material – barium- which coats the esophagus and makes it easier to see on the X-ray. The doctor can then examine the image to see if your esophagus is expanding correctly. And this examination can also be done with an endoscopic camera.
Your treatment will depend on what’s causing the condition. If the condition is caused by weakened muscles, there are a number of exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles. And you can learn different swallowing techniques to compensate for the weakened muscles. Your doctor will be able to advise you on what to do.
If the treatment is caused by muscle constriction in the esophagus, there are a number of medications that can help relax the muscles. In addition, a surgeon can perform a procedure to dilate the muscles and force them to relax. Finally, a surgeon can remove portions of the esophagus to widen the space for food to pass through.
If you’re experiencing difficulties swallowing, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor. They will be able to give you advice on the best course of treatment.