We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Cricopharyngeal Spasm?

By Jennifer Long
Updated Feb 21, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cricopharyngeal spasm is a spasm that occurs in the cricopharyngeal muscle. It is distinguishable when a person has a chronic feeling of having a lump in the throat. Many patients report that saliva is hard to swallow but food tends to go down easily.

There are two separate valves in the esophagus. Both of these valves relax to allow food and fluids through. They then contract after swallowing to prevent stomach contents from coming back up. When the contraction part of swallowing malfunctions, the cricopharyngeal spasm occurs.

Many people worry that a lump in the throat sensation is the results of a real lump in the throat, such as one that occurs as a result of a growing tumor. Most commonly, cricopharyngeal spasm causes are related to stress. The occurrence of a spasm often becomes aggravated or worse with increases in stress levels.

The most pronounced and main cricopharyngeal spasm symptom that can occur is the lumpy feeling. Most patients notice that the feeling is worse near the end of the day. Eating stops the spasm in many instances, even if it only stops for a short time. A patient may not experience a spasm every day, or the spasm can continue for days at a time.

Cricopharyngeal spasm treatment will vary depending on each patient. Doctors must consider individual factors. The frequency and duration of spasms, stress levels, medical history, and age are major factors considered when a treatment plan is created.

Prescription muscle relaxants are commonly recommended for bothersome cases. The muscle relaxants help to relax the constricted muscles that are causing the cricopharyngeal spasm. A muscle relaxant is generally taken when the spasm begins. Most prescription muscle relaxants are benzodiazepines, but because they are highly addictive, doctors may choose a different class.

Identifying and reducing stress also works to combat the occurrence of spasms. Exposure to stress causes spasms to become more intense and frequent. Keeping track of trigger points can help a patient have fewer occurrences of spasms.

Heat can be another way to treat a cricopharyngeal spasm. Warm compresses or a heating pad on the throat can alleviate discomfort and relax muscles. Some patients may also experience relief from drinking warm fluids.

This condition generally does not continue on a long-term basis. Some cases are chronic, often due to muscle disorders or damage. In these instances, surgical repair or reconstruction may be recommended by a doctor.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon988264 — On Feb 09, 2015

Consider supplementing with chelated magnesium. That has helped my child suffering from a similar symptom that was never given a diagnosis. Rubbing some magnesium "oil" on the neck was an immediate relief. After that we supplemented daily with the chelated magnesium.

By anon332963 — On May 02, 2013

I have had enormous relief from 0.5mg of Xanax which is a benzo. I thought I was losing my mind with this problem. It was so bothersome, and now I can only feel a teeny little sensation when swallowing. The benzo not only relaxes the muscle, but also helps with the stress which is what caused it in in the first place. I just try not to use the benzos with any regularity to prevent a dependence forming.

By Saraq90 — On Aug 03, 2011

You could go to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor), but because a lump in your throat or the feeling of a lump in your throat might could be multiple things, I would personally go to my general medicine doctor and then let them refer me as they see fit.

If it does end up being a cricopharyngeal spasm lump, I hope you feel better. I am sure that lump can be a scary to plain annoying sensation!

By jlong — On Aug 03, 2011

My suggestion is to talk with your primary physician about your symptoms. He or she may be able to diagnose and treat the lump sensation you are experiencing. If not, you can get a referral to a specialist which may be an Otolaryngologist (a doctor that specializes in the ear, nose, and throat).

By amysamp — On Aug 03, 2011

I have felt the "lump in my throat feeling" but I thought it had something to do with the vitamin I took every morning.

Is there a special doctor I should go see about having a throat lump or at least the feeling of a throat lump?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.