Path to Dysphagia Diagnosis
  • Carinda Stout, MS CCC/SLP

What is a Corkscrew Esophagus?

Corkscrew esophagus is a condition that results from nerve damage and makes it difficult for the body to pass food and liquid to the stomach.

When a person with a healthy esophagus swallows, different parts of the esophagus squeeze at different times. The top squeezes, then the middle, then the bottom (this process is technically known as peristalsis), and this helps propel the food.

The body’s immune system has attacked the nerves that release nitric oxide.

When you have corkscrew esophagus, the entire esophagus squeezes at once, and you end up with this corkscrew appearance.


It also squeezes too fast. This happens because the body’s immune system has attacked the nerves that release nitric oxide, which causes the esophagus to relax. Without that relaxing agent, the esophagus can spasm painfully. The condition also causes chest pain, and problems eating and drinking.

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