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What Is Spastic Esophageal Motility Disorder?

An esophageal motility disorder (EMD) is a disorder that’s characterized by uncoordinated contractions of the esophagus (the muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach) that can cause swallowing difficulties, spasms of pain or regurgitation (the return of partially digested food from the stomach to the mouth).

There are many types of spastic EMDs, including:

  • Diffuse esophageal spasm
  • Nutcracker esophagus, also called jackhammer esophagus because of the severe pain
  • Hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter nonspecific EMD

You might experience spasms only occasionally, or you may have a chronic EMD that interferes with your ability to get nutrition. True spastic EMD is a relatively rare condition. Your physician will likely test you for a variety of disorders, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and achalasia, before making a diagnosis of spastic EMD.