Dysphagia In Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia and dysphagia

Dysphagia refers to a condition characterized by a difficulty in swallowing. There are various conditions that can trigger dysphagia. Someone who suffers from it often finds it difficult to live a normal life. Depending on the condition, the manner of swallowing can become extremely painful. Thus, eating and getting enough nutrients for the body can be a challenge. Fibromyalgia patients often complain about having dysphagia.

What Causes Dysphagia?

There are various reasons why one would suffer from dysphagia. Anything that interrupts with the nerves and muscles responsible for controlling the esophagus can lead to this condition. However, some of the most reported causes are:

Achalasia– this condition triggers constriction of the muscles of the esophagus.

• Diffuse spasm – a condition involving uncontrollable muscle spasms, usually right after swallowing food.

• GERD or Gastro Intestinal Reflux Disease – this refers to the destruction of the tissues in the esophagus. It is often due to stomach acid flowing into the esophagus.

• Esophageal stricture – narrowing of the esophagus opening as a result of the scar tissues or tumor.


Join the Conversation


  1. says: Carol wisker

    Thank you for this article on the swallowing issue! One comment: after having every test there is for swallowing and consulting with all of the top docs , no one could give me a diagnosis! The spasms do not happen without food and none of the tests included food only liquids and barium. Since I also have dermatomyositis I was anticipating a diagnosis to no avail. Another situation that Fibro people just have to live with!

    1. says: Marianna K Rivera

      Hi, I had my esophagus stretched 3x and it helped. It lasts about 3 years, getting ready to have it done again by my gastroenterologist. Hopefully you find one to help you.

  2. says: Allison Haskell

    I have Fibro and years I am ago diagnosed with Dysphasia along with Acid reflux disease and Barretts , and the difficulty swallowing follows suit especially at night constant clearing , my Drs did tell me all part of the Fibro… Fibro is tiresome and painful especially when u also have 3 forms of arthritis with it … and psoraris frustrating but I have great Drs.. and better Meds and I’m trying now not to have to take pain Meds … typical Lyrica cymbalta dont do nothing for Fibro at all… I take Savella along with Neurotin Ortelza and sulfazalazine and Soma , and dew other Meds for my Gerds and IBD…not sure what else out there to help I do better since been on anti inflammatory and my dr did a ultrasound looking into my muscles and that just blew me away seeing all the swelling fluid along and between muscles before .. love getting this emails gives a lot of good info and answers and discussions with my Drs

    1. says: Karen E

      For psorisas…use coconut cream oil. Its moisturized and not greasy. If you are in Canada Wal-Mart Chinese. Food section. 2.97$ cdn dollars. Coconut oil. You can also use in cooking. Plus I use it After I shower. From head to toe. Neck knees elbows feet and under heels. I’m so soft. Its my secret also my skin is beautiful. I’m 63. Look like my 40’s…people say.
      Its also antibacterial fighter. Microbacterial too. Healthy eating.

    2. says: Maureen

      Hi Allison, I was just wondering how you get Drs to help you. Mine just shrug. So basically I do not get any kind off help. Some days I walk in circles but can’t get anything done because of the pain. Ultrasound on the muscles ? Wow my Drs want to just give me epidurals and send me home. I am tired. I lived in NYC you would think. Now I am in Pa, because I had to retire. But the Doctors are worse here. What kind of Drs do you see ?

  3. says: Carol wisker

    Can you please tell me if there have been studies of the throat issues? Is there a person I can connect with for further information or the author of this article? I would like to share it with the physicians that have seen about this condition. especially my rheumatologist.
    Thank you.
    Carol Wisker

  4. says: Londa Campbell

    I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over ten years ago and just last year with Dysphagia. Was told nothing could be done for me and early this year I had emergency surgery to remove a pill that got lodged in my throat. On Monday of this week I just had surgery and two balloons were placed in my esophagus. To soon to know if this will help,it hurts still to swallow but I am not choking. I am also taking Omeprazole for the acid reflux which seemed to just appear overnight. I was also told I’m allergic to wheat and dairy but what’s funny is sipping on milk seems to be the only thing that gives me any relief. Every day it seems some new symptom appears. Fibro sufferers stay strong,omit as much stress as possible from your life and be as active as your body allows. Try to find a happy as often as possible no matter how small. Smiling and laughing can help with depression and anxiety.

  5. says: Connie Wilson

    I had some issues with drinking water or swallowing spit. After they stretched my esophagus my throat esophagus started spasming from the back of my throat down my sternum. Since it was a difficult stretch they said, I felt it could have been fibromyalgia related. But after talking with a couple rheumatologist and other doctors they felt it wasn’t part of that. It has been 2 years now with this throat issue, and it is turned in to a pain in the throat and not being able to speak because vocal cords are getting stuck now and then. I am not able to take full breaths it seems or do too much activity. I have asked them numerous times about why I can’t get a full of lung capacity. But now it affects with my speaking in Activity 2. I am calling the doctors back. Thank you for this article it may help solve some things. Well not solve but clarify.

  6. says: Debbie conrad

    Allison and carol I too have really bad swallowing difficulties and constant clearing of my throat I have had fibro since about 200-2001i never had this issue until I was also diagnosed about two years ago with Parkinson’s never had this issue until a few months ago it is a symptom of Parkinson’s as well I asked my neurologist and he agreed please check with a neurologist it may not be from fibro I’m no doctor but just thought I would stick my two cents in good luck and God bless

  7. says: Hilary Johnson

    My mum had dysphasia with her Parkinson’s disease and had to be peg fed
    She also lost her ability to talk also
    I have fibro and many other problems which may or may not be linked to my fibro
    I have suffered with my throat, lack of saliva, choking to the point of losing consciousness and I live alone.
    I’ve been told I have sic a syndrome hence the dryness, I have been told it’s the medication I take for other problems.
    I’m just fed up with it all. I try to keep active but it’s very hard when you are in pain.
    Love to everyone lets all try and keep positive,

  8. says: Sue Martell

    I am 62 and have had fibro for 40 yrs or so. Back then I was told it was in my head and sent to see counselor. So much more info now, I have so many of the symptoms plus allergies (had since 6 yrs) and bad back. Tired of the life I have to lead. Am going to try this New curcumin and maybe cbc oil if that doesn’t help. Good luck all.

    1. says: Tina Elton

      Sue, i too am 62, and have delt with all the same things for forty years. I recently was able to cerify for medical use of marijuana and that has done much more than cbd alone. Ive been taking Tramadol for over thirty years and although it isnt a cure all by any means it gives me enough relief for incentive to push thru all the pain and other stressers. My pcp is now trying to decrease my dose…i take two three times a day. Due to goverment and insurance im forced to try other drugs and reduce the tramadol. Gabapentin was a nightmare….gained 15 pounds in a week and half! I have skin attachments in my shin from repair of splintered leg bones and the pressure from swelling was excruciating. Insurance wont cover cymbalta unless i try others ….now a generic cymbalta for ninety days. The major issue as i see it is the side effects of all this added drugs! Ive done well for all this time, worked full time as a nanny and teacher, never had issues of an opiod nature, and remain symptom free with the regular use of tramadol! Now life has become so much more about managing my symptoms and pain than just pushing thru! Frustrating! As far as the esphogial issue, i find a good probiotic and eating very small well chewed bites helps. It still can happen out of no where and to stop pain a quick run to throw up the stuck bite and so much stomach acid is only relief. Fibro seems to be a constant test of strength and will. It sucks but being as active as possible , seeing the best in the worst and trying to laugh at alot of life seems to be the best coping mechanism i have come up with! Good luck …keep on keepin on and anytime you need to talk and vent ,your welcome to message me on facebook or email me!

      1. says: Lindsey Tutt

        Hi Tina
        I live in the UK and would love to get certified for marijuana, but alas it’s not going to be possible here for a long timei think. I would be interested to know if anyone in the uk who has got it right.
        Thanks, Linds x

      2. says: Jane

        Tina, My situation is similar to yours. My Doctor gave me Tramadol and I have been on it for about 40 years. It doesn’t work as good as it used to, but it helps enough to allow me to go to work every day. I don’t have an addictive personality. I think doctors should not try to get us off Tramadol if it helps us and we din’t abuse it. There is no harm. FDA goes overboard and lumps us all into one category. Such a shame. I had to try so many meds that were miserable, didn’t work, and side effects were horrendous. Tramadol guves me constipation and that is all FDA, please leave us alone!

      3. says: Jane Howard

        Tina, My situation is similar to yours. My Doctor gave me Tramadol and I have been on it for about 40 years. It doesn’t work as good as it used to, but it helps enough to allow me to go to work every day. I don’t have an addictive personality. I think doctors should not try to get us off Tramadol if it helps us and we din’t abuse it. There is no harm. FDA goes overboard and lumps us all into one category. Such a shame. I had to try so many meds that were miserable, didn’t work, and side effects were horrendous. Tramadol guves me constipation and that is all FDA, please leave us alone!

  9. says: Jan Varnes

    I would like to comment on the nervous system that causes our bodies to be on fire constantly. It is this constant anxiety that I am in “fight or flight” all the time. I was taking Xanax and of course I am no longer allowed the magic pill because of the Drug problem they have where I live. It’s insane they also took my pain Meds this my quality of life is nearly nothing.

    The state of anxiety causes constant nausea and a feeling of being unwell or unsafe all the time. I have done the coloring books the Mandalas and they are Beautiful but nothing worked like the last Medication I was placed on for about thirteen years.

    It is sad that I can’t be myself anymore and cleaning the Home I live in is a chore done mostly while sitting in a chair to mop or vacuum. I want my peace back I want to feel like I am contributing to my Community again. It’s is not going to happen so everyday I tell myself I will be ok I will meditate for hours and still not feel free of this all encompassing fear of whatever. I moved to my Hometown without the knowledge of the Health care problem and if I were to move back it would cost another four thousand dollars I do not have so what do you do with that ?

    I took Neurontin and Lyrica both made my ankles swell and I gained thirty five pounds in two months eating nothing but now my pain is worse and they say lose the weight well well if I could do that do they not think I would ???

    So since 1993 I have dealt with this beast and been back to work several times I was ready again and had momentum when they stopped me in 2013 and just refused to treat me and threatened to put me in treatment instead of do no harm and help me titrate off the Medications I had finally found that worked.

    I will be 59 and you know I am tired very tired. I am not being very positive tonight because I am going to hurt really bad tomorrow I actually made myself clean two rooms and mopped floors that is just sad and so for tonight I wish all of you a wellness weekend and hope for the future in our fight to regain a life worth living !!

    I also have OA now too and I Cath four times a day … no worries I am still pretty my Husband says now that is my Knight in shining Armor I do hope I can be with him more one day !! Give me a break now we both need to have a Hepatitis A shot because somewhere the Heroin in the needle community has threatened us once again I truly have compassion for addiction but not when it at my expense. Please get it together people what the hell is this walk softly with Nacan Community now because it sure feels like this to me and I m sick to death of all of it !!!

  10. says: Nicola J S Greenan

    I have been diagnosed with eosinophilic oesophagitis which is an autoimmune disease where the white blood cells increase in the collagen bands in the throat causing it to constrict.
    I have not found any of the treatments helpful and have basically been told they don’t know eno ugh about it and they’ve tried all they can. Has anyone else heard of or been diagnosed with this.
    Kind regards

  11. says: Deb Willms

    I have dysphasia and have had every known test, but I get it even swallowing my own saliva at times and I’m very afraid to eat alone as I have choked a few times and needed the Hymlich manoeuvre. Nitroglycerin spray under my tongue and drinking something hot before I eat has helped very much, also a prescription for GRD every other day.

  12. says: Barbara

    Interesting read, I have been told I have pollymyalger rhumatica,and possibly rheumatoid atheists,and suspected giant cell arterists, and I get all the symptoms mentioned,every day can be a challenge,as I have no idea if it’s going to be a good or bad day,I am being treated with steroids and methotrexate and pain killers, which has definitely helped as I can now do a few things so long as I take my time ,I can’t stand for to long,and can’t sit for to long ,I was once told it may be fibromyalgia but that was dismissed as I have a high pain threshold, (I have in the past broken bones and just thought I had hurt them a little bit,walked around with a broken ankle and a broken hand for 2 wks before I realised they were a bit more than just a little hurt,), I just wish there was a confirmed diagnosis,in the mean time I will read and hope that these informative pages will help me deal with stuff

  13. says: Liz

    I have fibromyalgia and also had difficulty swollowing i suffer from gasto reflux and i tend to suffer alot when eating its like im choking the food comes back and i cant get my breath and then i cough for ages after .i have had the camera and was told i have a hernia were my stomack comes up into my chest . And was only sent for the camera because on 2 occations i couldnt breath in or out was horrible was like i was alive but just not breathing i couldnt speak .cough nothing and it lasted about 5 mins

  14. says: Beverley Potterton

    I’ve just been diagnosed with dysphagia, tho I already knew because I suffer nearly all symptoms of fibromialgia and have been diagnosed for 10 yrs now, it helps to have the diagnosis coz if I eat out now _ whoever I’m with knows about it so I ask them to just carry on as normal so its notso embarrassing for me and I can deal with it easier without fuss, nothing helps except softer food eaten slower, but just can’t resist a steak and choke now and again, but I’m learning to deal with it _ I do deep breath in through nose and clear throat breathing out fast with a cough, pain in the bum but not so bad as some symptoms X Good luck all who have it _ try and stay calm through it and it is much more cop able then

  15. says: Linda fergusson

    Hi all I do appreciate all the info on this page and now to find that other people have this Gerd and choke on sometimes fresh air which is a pain, I also have fibro, peripheral neuropathy, Myalgic parasthesea, Osteoarthritis with constant back, knee, ankle, wrist, neck pain I also have one leg shorter than the other and to top it off I’ve also got menieres disease and just within the last 3wks I’ve gained a clicking jaw etc etc. So sorry to rabbit on as much I just don’t get the chance as my family just don’t want to know and my Dr isn’t really bothered as he just concentrates on my depression and anxiety does anyone else have these problems

  16. says: Claudette Brown

    Thank you for sharing. In addition to the shared Information, as a result of a stoke, the muscles in the back of my throat are very weak. As a result of sleep apnea, silava pools in my mouth and cakes during sleep. I awaken with a dry throat and most foods are dry and swallowing is difficult. I am experiencing difficulty swallowing small pills as well. Because of breathing challenges, and lack of sufficient oxygen during sleep, Tiredness. Problems breathing. Challenges with quality of life all the while experiencing muscle pain. Fibromyalgia has been a challenge, undiagnosed all my life until 10 years ago. I am a wonderful 75 years of age with few answers and many questions. Follow your mind, don’t let anyone dismiss your questions. I am glad I am seeking answers for my questions and learning the late affects of the stroke/Fibromyalgia/Sleep Apnea/Osteoarthritis/aging and the impact of throat muscles. Now I will inquire with ENT/Pulmonary Specialist and Primary Care doctors regarding other alternative tests shared. It can’t hurt to ask. Remember, one size (solution) does not fit all. You are mightily blessed and have much to give. The fat lady has not “sang.” To the best of your ability give it your everything ! You are not alone.

  17. says: RJ Heim

    These throat, swallowing and spasm problems can also be symptoms of SJOGREN’S DISEASE, another Autoimmune disease. This disease attacks the fluid production processes of the body, so other symptoms may include extreme dryness like dry eyes and mucus membraned areas (nose, mouth, vagina, And internal organs) and leaves us with Extreme Fatigue- the first debilitating symptom of the disease. Usually only a RHEUMATOLOGIST will diagnose And Treat Sjogren’s disease. Ask Your PCP for a referral for testing.

  18. Thank you everyone for all the helpful information. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over 20 years ago and not given much information about, but looking back as with many, feel I have had it for a lot longer. I am also asthmatic, epileptic through a mild stroke. arthritic, angina and have heart failure. have learnt so much more through sites like this and have passed the information on to a group I belong to of fibromyalgia sufferers, thank you

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