Esophageal disorders can be difficult to deal with, as they interfere with some pretty fundamental activities like eating, swallowing, and breathing. Conditions that fall under this category include acid reflux disease, infection (from bacteria or viruses), corrosive conditions (caused by chemicals), and radiation (from cancer treatments). Acid reflux disease (causing heartburn and acid indigestion) happens when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close tightly and the acidic contents of the stomach enter the esophagus. This is by far the most common disorder of the four.
Recently, a team of scientists at the Institute for Integrated Medicine, Tel Aviv University, commented that patients with esophageal disorders represent a challenging treatment group. Although there are a number of standard medical approaches to esophageal disorders, many of these treatments cause side effects and/or are not tolerated well by patients. Long-term use of antacids or over-the-counter digestion aids can cause yet more unwanted symptoms to crop up. The scientists decided to conduct a study to evaluate the role of biofeedback in the treatment of patients with esophageal disorders.
In the study, patients with acid reflux disease filled out various forms detailing their symptoms, level of anxiety and depression, and other stress symptoms. Patients with heartburn and those with symptoms of sharp pain in the chest were offered biofeedback treatment. An assessment questionnaire was filled out at the end of treatment and then three years later.
The researchers found, after treatment for one to four years, patients with chest pain showed significant improvements in symptoms compared with those who were not treated. Interestingly, although the patients with chest pain had a longer time of esophageal acid exposure than those with heartburn, heartburn patients showed no improvement.
The researchers concluded that patients with chest pain have different factors associated with symptom generation in comparison with patients with heartburn. Biofeedback is a useful tool in the treatment of patients with chest pain, but does not seem to relieve symptoms in those with heartburn.
If you experience any chest pain from esophageal disorders, it can understandably be an alarming symptom, because it often mimics chest pain from a heart attack. Get a doctor’s advice immediately, of course, if you’re unsure what is causing the pain.
If you have learned to identify chest pain associated with esophageal disease, consider trying biofeedback. It is a non-invasive and natural treatment that helps you to understand what actions might be triggering the chest pains.