View Full Version : Strange symptoms - does this sound right to anyone?

01-15-2005, 09:00 AM
Hi All,
This is kind of long but I could really use some input.
I'm 40 yo female w/T curve in high 40's and L curve in mid 50's. No surgery as of yet. Last fall I had several strange, non-specific symptoms as follows: Difficulty clearing food from my esophagus, feelings of tightness in my chest - especially around eating, sharp chest pains (esophageal), burping after meals. Had a whole battery of blood, cardiac and GI tests and all came back normal. Those symptoms slowly resolved themselves. Then I soon developed slight dizziness plus tingling and weakness in all 4 extremities that even travelled to my face and scalp at times. Neurologist ordered more tests to rule out various neurological and/or muscular disorders. Again, all normal. His diagnosis was muscle spasms which he said got worse due to anxiety (I was convinced I had MS.) and prescribed xanax to relax the muscle spasms and calm me down. As soon as the symptoms went away. I stopped the xanax and was symptom free for 2 mos. This past week I've had a sudden onset of the same GI stuff (burping, sour stomache) and also a slight reappearance of the weakness as well. I also had a few days of severe malaise which has passed but the GI stuff remains. Of course the spasms seem worse in my neck and mid-back too.

Does this make sense to anyone? Has anyone heard of these symptoms being related to scoliosis and /or mus. spasms?

I can understand the tingling but the GI stuff occuring at the same time is such an mystery. I don't want to have anymore tests right now. I've had so many and I get the impression the docs all kind of think I'm a bit wacky.

Any feedback would be great. Thanks, Nora

01-16-2005, 12:29 PM
I am interested in the similarity of part of your your problems to one I have experienced for about eight years. I developed an infrequent problem with swallowing. Sometimes I just could not
swallow , expecially if the food was at
all dry. For instance I tried to eat some dry tuna from the can and I could not swallow it. Other times I woild be at the dinner table and suddenly I couldn't swallow, the food would be stuck somewhere in my esophogus (sp) My
curves are 75 and 80. I had not wondered about a curve connection until
now that you have mentioned it. I have not experienced the burping problem .

01-16-2005, 02:19 PM
I'm curious to see if anyone else has had swallowing problems, too. I can't imagine with a large thoracic curve how the esophagus *wouldn't* be affected in some way. Thinks are packed fairly snug in there. I'm curious to know if muscle spasms could affect swallowing. I know that massage helps alleviate the other symptoms I was having (ie, the tingling and numbness) but I'm not sure if they are linked at all. As an aside, I think the burping is from taking in so much air in an effort to get the food down w/excessive swallows....such a ladylike discussion! Nora

01-16-2005, 05:16 PM
this isn't a ladylike discussion but it's interesting! i noticed that after my surgery i started to have the same experiences as kathleen...it's like i've forgotten how to swallow sometimes! i also have terrible heartburn that sometimes hits mid-meal; i never had problems like the swallowing or frequent indigestion before. i have assumed that these things will settle down once my innards are used to their new locations...it seems like everthing kind of moved around inside after the surgery; i know i look different on the outside. i am going for my annual checkup with my gp in a few weeks; i'll check with her and see if she thinks my fosamax has turned on me...i suppose that's a possibility...

Karen Ocker
01-16-2005, 05:56 PM
I had that problem from Fosamax. I had to stop taking it. Actually my bone density improved after surgery (2 years) since my breathing has improved and I am able to exercise more. Your pharmacist can give you more info about side effects from Fosamax.

Before my surgery my chest was so crunched that my stomach was laying on its side and I felt like I could not breathe after a full meal. I also had bad reflux. That is all gone now.

01-16-2005, 09:21 PM
I've got questions for both Sue and Karen.
Sue, did you have any of these problems before surgery. My curves have not been corrected surgically (yet?). Also, how old are you and how did your surgery go?

Karen, how large was your curve before the most recent surgery?

Interesting how swallowing problems are creeping out of the woodwork. I'm not surprised about any potential linkage but I wouldn't guess that a T curve of 46ish would do it. Maybe so.

I'm so grateful for the feedback. Thanks again.

01-17-2005, 11:04 AM
hi, nora! i did not have these swallowing/digestion issues before the surgery; i've taken fosomax for at least 2 years with no problems, but i'm going to discontinue taking it and see if things improve. this surgery affects every system your body has; it wouldn't surprise me if my swallowing/digestion issues are just part of the recovery process. i couldn't feel luckier about my surgery. although my hospital stay was much longer than i'd hoped it would be, i didn't have a single set back in recovery. i noticed the second day after surgery that the pain i had experienced in my back and left leg was gone; imagine that! i am nearly weaned from my brace and i'm looking forward to starting physical therapy next month...i will be 50 soon and i feel like a million bucks compared to the past 20 years.

01-17-2005, 06:12 PM
I've been reading posts for several months but this is my 1st post reply. I've had digestive problems that I theorized were related to my kyphosis and scoiliosis, but have not yet discussed this problem with an ortho surgeon.

I am 59, curvatures started at age 13, never treated. Kyphosis now is 89 degrees, apex around T4 or 5; don't know degrees of scolio curves but they are upper right apex at T10 and lumbar left apex at L3.

Began having heartburn in the middle of the night about 6 years ago.

In summer 2002, I began experiencing horrible pains in the "bra band" region (which I guess is around T5 - T6) that were triggered when I ate something dry. The episodes kept getting worse. GP said "esophogeal (sp) spasm" and referred me to GI specialist, who did endoscopy; I had some small areas in the esophagus that were eroded by stomach acid but I took prescribed meds and changed diet somewhat, which seemed to help for a while.

Spasms started again maybe 6 - 8 months ago. In addition, heartburn / acid reflux wakes me up 1 - 2 hours after I go to bed if I have eaten almost anything within 4 hours before I go to bed. Since I first began to investigate options re spinal deformities about 1.5 years ago, I wondered if the acid reflux was somehow related.

Just learned several days ago that I have had a hiatal hernia since 1993; it is now described as "large." None of my doctors ever mentioned the hernia to me, nor did any of them ever mention the kyphosis and scoliosis, although all these problems are well-documented on radiologists' reports on chest x-rays that were done for unrelated reasons!!! Only reason I learned about the hernia is I am now changing my primary care MD and obtained copies of many of my med records since 1983. I was reading them to document my loss of height, and was floored to see the radiologists' comments.

(Hiatal hernia is when top of stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity, so stomach acid is able to back up really easily into the throat.)

Finally adding 2 + 2, I suspect that the severe kyphosis (which has gotten much worse in the last few years) has squished the stomach such that the top has been pushed through the diaphragm.

I have 1st visit with new primary care physician tomorrow. I will make appointment with one of the surgeons at UCSF (thanks, Linda Racine, for the suggestions) to evaluate my back. I now wonder if having the hernia repaired is a higher priority than the instrumentation.

Please forgive my rambling but I hope that this addresses some of the questions about stomach problems; please look into where all of your stomach is located.

Any comments regarding several different primary care physicians not telling me about the hernia? or even commenting on the spinal deformities?

Many thanks for this great website

01-18-2005, 01:02 PM
Just as a matter of interest, I too have some similar problems. I have Lumbar 60 deg curve and Thorassic 50+ and am currently awaiting a surgery date.

I get woken in the night with heartburn very regularly - sometimes to the extent that no over the counter drug will relieve it. My doctor is currently trying different drugs etc to reduce stomach acid to see if it will help (so far it hasn't). It's often relieved to some extent by propping myself up in bed, particularly if I lean the opposite way to my 'natural' rotation.

What caught my eye about this thread was the swallowing problem - I simply hadn't related the two, but I have problems with things like toast. They seem to go down 6" then get stuck - it can be quite painful! The heartburn and swallowing have come on over the last 2 years getting worse especially over the last 6-12 months. I am hoping that surgery is going to help with this as well as the curve and pain in my back.

It is a help though to know that I'm not the only person in the world with the same symptoms!

01-19-2005, 11:21 PM
I am curious if anyone on this forum has been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, and if so, what, if anything, was done about it. The Mayo Clinic site mentions that frequent stomach acid in the esophagus due to hiatal hernia can have serious consequences in the long-term.

Has anyone actually diagnosed you with a hiatal hernia or any other condition where your stomach has been pushed out of shape?
Had 1st visit with new PCP yesterday; I will be getting new chest x-rays and an MRI as soon as I can schedule them. Should be interesting to see what has changed since the last x-rays taken in August 2003. I have to have a referral and a recent MRI in order to just make an appointment with the Orthos as UCSF.

This doctor felt quite strongly that I could arrest and even reverse some of the damage by building up my muscles and tendons so they can support me better. I must admit I am a little skeptical, but as I do not plan to have surgery, if at all, until a year from now, there is no harm in working with this doc to see what happens in a year's time.

01-20-2005, 06:18 AM

I haven't been diagnosed with a hiatus hernia - initially the doctor ruled it out as I don't get any problems with heartburn fter eating. I do if I roll over in bed though which is odd. She originally thought that it was a stress reaction - too much pain in your back makes you produce more stomach acid which in turn has to go somewhere. I've been on acid supressants for a while to test the theory. The heartburn is just as frequent, but isn't quite as painful so I have to go and see here again for her next idea! I personally think it's "squashed" organs that are at the root of this.

Re muscles etc, I've had rolfing done and do some pilates - everything you can do to build up the muscles in your trunk will help. My curve hasn't got any better (in fact its got worse over time) but at least when I get the op I think my muscles will be stronger and more flexible and therefore more able to cope with the changes in my body after the op.

Good luck with everything.

01-20-2005, 04:21 PM

I have a hiatal hernia. I have had it for 26 years. I got it when I became pregnant with our first child. I am very short waisted and she sat very high pushing my stomach up. I have not had it fixed because the outcome it not worth it to me. Generally, it doesn't stay fixed. I have learned to eat right, to watch for what sets it off, (spicy foods, overeating, laying down or reclining to soon after eating, worrying) and deal with it that way. It is not from my scoliosis.

01-24-2005, 08:19 PM
I appreciate everyone's thoughtful replies. It seems as though digestive problems are not uncommon but that may be so even without scoliosis. All I know is that whenever I feel like food is just sitting in my esophagus, I've usually got increased tightness in my mid back in the same area. Has to be some relation....
Thanks again, everyone. N

04-11-2006, 10:14 PM
I have had neck, back, throat, stomach, leg, hip &pelvis pain. I am sure I'm forgetting several.
A wicked sway back & bad knees. Scoliosis went undetected.
I am 40 & pushing for answers.
I am sure my doctor thinks I'm crazy.
Symptoms come & go at will.
I am having thorassic pain today, with numbness in my right hand.
Last week it was my neck.
Last month my back cramps with my period. Before that knees.
Spiraling in & out of severe pain.
I nap most days. My sleep pattern messes up.
I get headaches. It seems everything has been checked once. I am now going through re-doing xrays & mri's of upper back.
They found the bra line pain on xray finally.
Hope :)

04-12-2006, 06:20 AM
what kind of curves do you have?? sorry to hear of all your pain...are you on pain killers? are you due for surgery??
I never saw these posts before & since I've had bad reflux & some trouble swallowing w/ meats at dinner, It makes me think there is a scoliosis connection. I got bad heartburn last night about 2 am & I have to pop a tums! I believe it has to do with when I go on my sides. The big hip side I can't roll over on or I get the heartburn & gurggling. The no hip side I can bearly go on/uncomfortable. I just try to just sleep on my back...........Ly
60/60 curves 95 thorolum./80 kyphosis

04-12-2006, 06:54 AM
I too had tons of problems swallowing at times, lots of times my neck would "go out" requiring trips to the chiropractor to get it unstuck. it would lock in odd positions.
I would get frequent heartburn. I would urinate constantly. Like the more squished my body became, the more I had to pee. I was never in a place where I didn't know where the bathroom was...lol

All these people with the same kinds of problems, I'd hazard to guess there's a connection between the scoli and these issues.

04-12-2006, 02:02 PM
That's weird about the throat, I do have problems swallowing as well, but since I have problems with my neck my PT told me it's normal. I also get these weird movements where my jaw moves on it's own, LOL. It's nuts. I do feel that my neck is more tense since I had the surgery though, and get tension headaches.

As for breathing problems, it's something that I wonder about sometimes. I do cough from time to time(when I'm more tired), and did before surgery a LOT. Some symptoms could be related to scoliosis, I guess I will never know. If you ask a chiro, for sure they will tell you that ALL the problems we can have(like stomach problems as well) are sure to come from scoliosis, but I'm not 100% convinced.

04-12-2006, 05:01 PM
I cough A LOT!!! My older son is always asking me to please stop coughing...I tell him I wish I could but it seems to stem from being on my feet for a while & then I get heartburn/acid & cough. I rarely go out to dinner because I'm afraid since I never no if I'll start coughing & my stomach will feel tight & uncomfortable. At lunch time I'm a bit better/less in the stomach.I guess.... this kind of stuff makes me much more depressed than the back pain...I so hope I'll have some relief w/ the surgery(fingers crossed!!!) lynne

04-12-2006, 07:07 PM
I'm glad this old thread has resurfaced...somehow I missed it earlier.

I have always had a problem swallowing pills...especially if they are not coated or if they are oblong instead of round. They get "hung" somewhere down in my throat and I have to drink a lot of liquid to get rid of that sensation. I also get choked on food from time to time. The first time I ate food after my surgery, I said my stomach has moved. It felt like it was in the center of my belly. Before surgery my stomach always felt like it was on my lower left side. I had a Thoracolumbar curvature of 47 degrees. Fused from T-9 to L-5. After reading these post...perhaps there is a connection. Intersting!

Kindest Regards,

04-12-2006, 09:44 PM
The trouble swallowing that is one thing i don't have....thightness in my chest..yes more often than i would like. I went to the doctor convinced i was going to have i mild heartatack. He said because i was a rather healthy 27 year old it was not very likely but to satisfy me he would to some blood work. And to no surprise i was fine. I have terrible muscle pain, weakness and tingling in my feet and face. I also have headaches, dizziness and ringing in my ears. I see neurologists often and one neuro suspected MS but no testing was done....one reason was i was afraid of the spinal tap after i had just saw my scoliosis curve for the first time in ten years and the other reason is another neuro said no he did not believe my brain MRI fit MS or me in general. I have had REAL bad muscle spasms that put me out for days at a time a then the regular here and there ones. I only have a 40 deg. lumbar curve and not sure of thor. but i have ALOT of pain every single day. For ten years now. Was told to do surgery at 16yrs. old and said no..wish i would have. Doing it June 5th. Good Luck All!

04-12-2006, 09:51 PM
How interesting! I have had problems swallowing foods too! It always feels like it get stuck tedder-tottering in my throat and I always get worried it will choke me. It is especially embarrasing if out in public when it happens. My reg. docter thought it was a social anxiety I was having- but then it started happening at home too! I get heartburn as well. I can't wait to see if that problem goes away after surgery.... I truly believe that scoliosis causes alot of other problems as well- especially with moving organs and such. Interesting!

04-13-2006, 04:54 AM
I am now post surgery, but they have only fixed up to T9 (so far) and I am still getting heartburn and swallowing problems. In fact, whilst in hospital I had an attack so bad that after antacid drugs didn't work, they gave me a ECG (which thankfully came back normal). I am hoping it will stop if they do the rest of my spine (possibly end of this year).

The only thing that has changed since surgery is that now I can actually bring on my heartburn (as if you would want to) by lying on my back and attempting to raise my head from the pillow - thus putting strain on my top curve.

In the hospital they said that during surgery they had found my stomach was squashed between my diaphragm and my spine and this was definitely linked both to the heartburn and the difficulty swallowing. I think this is fairly common and although I know lots of people without scoliosis get heartburn, if you can identify a 'mechanical' trigger (like moving in a certain way) then I think it is almost certainly down to your spine.

04-13-2006, 06:48 AM
wow!! To everyone that responded: It all makes me feel like my swallowing problem/digestive issues are probably all connected to some degree to the scoliosis. My main swallowing problem is with meats like steak etc. so I stay away from them in the evening...That was one main reason that I got the scoliosis checked again this past Dec. because I was scared out of my mind about actually feeling the meat slide down my throat... Then the heartburn whenever I bend down for a bit or I am just on my feet a while...
ps. Dr Boachie has an article on severe lumbar curves which does explain that some cases were so bad that they could'nt eat a full meal because the stomach got full so fast due to being squished & after surgery, the patient had much more room in the abdominal cavity --Ly :) :) :)

04-13-2006, 11:30 AM
I have also had a swallowing problem for a few years where food like meats or thick breads get stuck in my esophagus and won't go down. It feels like a spasm and drinking doesn't help. What does help is to stand up for a few minutes and walk around. That seems to loosen it up. I can still breathe while it is happening. My family says that my face turns bright red so they know when it is happening; sometimes I cough a lot with it.

I have a double curve, 65 & 75, and often wondered if this could be causing it. Several here also mentioned neck problems and I also have 2 kinks in my neck so maybe they are causing a constriction. I have never felt that it was bad enough to look into medically; there is some heartburn at night depending on what I ate occasionally, but as I am looking into scoliosis surgery will probably wait to see if it changes after that.

Have noticed that prevention is a good thing; eating slowly, taking small bites, chewing slowly, etc. Hard to remember sometimes when you're real hungry or in a hurry! Also avoiding the acidy stuff before bedtime is good.


04-13-2006, 06:01 PM
I always have to cut certain pills or vitamins in half, and if they're not coated they still get stuck at times, what a pain. And I ALWAYS take them with some food. I prefer the caplets. But my PT said it has to do with the neck, who knows. I do believe that heartburn(as common as it is) is not helped with scoliosis. I had a severe case of it for over a year before surgery, and after for a while b/c I wore a brace(soft one). But with time and a major change in my diet, it got better. Surgery must have helped.

09-20-2006, 03:57 AM
Hi everyone

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Best wishes all.

09-20-2006, 07:50 AM
I read thru this thread again & I am kind of glad it resurfaced...
For any of you scoliosis folks out there who are having these kinds of symptoms...I can say from my own experience, these problems with acid reflux, swallowing dry foods, serious coughing, indigestion, have totally disappeared since my surgery!!!!!!!! My surgeon felt that the swallowing issue was not related to my scoliosis( thorocolumbar of 95) but I can tell you that it has completely gone away since surgery.....I feel like a new woman!!!!! I have not had so much as a small cough since the surgery!!!! So I totally believe that the huge curve was affecting the positioning of my intestines, stomach & diapragm big time causing me serious problems... Ly

surg-Aug 1st2006/Dr. Boachie/Kim @ HSS in NYC
thorocolumbar curve of 95 reduced in the 50's
kyphosis 85....no hump now.. :rolleyes:

09-20-2006, 08:36 AM
i guess thats why i get indigestion at night.i thought what in the world is wrong with me! i know that my left rib is almost touching my hip,in between there i hurt sometimes like im being squished.im glad i found this thread and hopefully it is related to scoliosis so it will go away after surgery..lol

09-21-2006, 08:59 AM
Whenever I would tell friends and family about my organs being squished or how scoliosis could actually interfere with heart/lung function, they looked at me like I was nuts. They thought scoliosis was no big deal. In fact, if you look it up in most medical manuals, it will say that it doesn't even cause pain.

09-21-2006, 05:09 PM
I think it can cause pain for some but for others it doesn't, wich is so strange but that's what happens with other health issues like MS for example. I didn't have pain from my 60 degree curve until I stopped working b/c of another medical issue and my muscles became weak. The acid reflux I experienced a lot before surgery, and after it's come and gone, so as much as I know that it didn't help, I can't associate all the symptoms to scoliosis.

I do find it weird that even in new books about back pain they mostly say that scoliosis doesn't cause pain.

11-01-2006, 01:21 PM
I have burping, trouble swallowing, throwing up mucus, intermittent heartburn. I am doing all the preop things, like getting different doctor opinions, even started doing Pilates to keep me more flexible.

Funny, I really didn't start having the indigestion problems until last summer. My curves are 80/70s/30s, so I can imagine it might be related.

I don't think that all these cases are just a coincidence. I think it has something to do with our organs being constricted because of the curves.


11-01-2006, 06:41 PM
I had all those problems.....horrible coughing all the time, bad acid problems ...in fact, I now have enough tums to last a lifetime since I have'nt touched them since the night before surgery! My biggest curve was lumbar--is that yours?? My problems got worse over time
I have had no digestive issues since surgery...........it's been wonderful...Ly

ps. I did have the swallowing issues too & it scared the hell out of me & that's why I went to get checked by Boachie...

11-02-2006, 09:07 AM
ive never had swallowing problems but i do get indegestion at night when i lay down.i also feel bloated alot

12-15-2006, 11:48 AM
I just wanted to add that I am still having indigestion issues. A lot of burping, nausea, throwing up, and things seem to get caught in my esophagus. In fact, it feels like there is an obstruction.

The only thing I can keep down is cottage cheese, and I am drinking Gatorade to help keep my electrolytes up. I am even throwing up water most of the time.

It must be related to my 70/80 curves. How can all of us have the same conditions and have them relieved by surgery? I just count the days until my surgery in January.


12-15-2006, 01:48 PM
Glad to see this thread has drawn more interest... and excited that so many of you had your abdominal pains disappear after back surgery - this may be the factor that tips the scales for me as far as deciding to have the surgery.
For years, I've had bouts of indigestion (usually acid reflux in the middle of the night), horrible esophageal spasms triggered by eating dry foods that take about an hour to resolve, frequent bloating & gas that do not seem to be related to the types of food I ate. Now I'm wondering if the excruciating menstrual cramps I had every cycle were also somehow related - thankfully I'm past all that now :D
Saw Dr. Berven @ UCSF in January & June this year; at first visit my prior x-rays were of limited value because they did not include the entire spine; Dr. Berven said to return in 6 months to have full spine x-rays done @ UCSF, which I did in June: 93 degrees kyphosis at T3 with some compensatory scoliosis at L2. The only back pain I have is in L region when I stand in one place for more than a couple of minutes. Dr. B. said that I should consider the surgery & that the curve likely could be reduced to 45 degrees of better, and would be 3 - 4 inches taller than I am now (was 5'7" @ age 18; now am 5'3 1/2" at age 61, with no bone density loss). I'll see Dr. B. again in June 2007.
I'm leaning more (no pun intended) to having the surgery, but am getting negative feedback from my PCP and family & friends - of course they don't know what it feels like to have these problems. :confused:

12-15-2006, 04:18 PM
I never seemed to complain about my severe scoliosis over the years since I really did'nt have horrible pain. The hump bothered me by last year..seemd to have gotten worse & I felt shorter...& the swallowing issues, I believe, started about a year ago and I seemed to be more aware of it as time went on....It completely freaked me out & I was worried there was something else wrong w/ me & that caused me to go & get my back checked... The surgeon said it probably was not related. I still thought it was....now, as I've said, its gone & I feel much better.. after surgery..Ly :)