An 87-year-old woman in Switzerland sought medical help when she developed painful spasms every time she swallowed. Imaging and X-rays revealed her esophagus twisted up like a corkscrew whenever she ate. The condition caused her to lose 11 pounds (5 kilograms) over the course of several months, according to the case report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May.
Specialists in the United States told LiveScience that while the twisting esophagus was odd, the condition is not unknown.
Muscle spasms are to blame for this type of pain. Instead of contracting and relaxing in a series from the mouth to the stomach, the muscles within this woman’s esophagus contracted simultaneously, said Dr. John Pandolfino of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
There is no cure for the condition.