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Injury to esophagus?

elevenfifteen2010-07-04 10:14:07 +0000 #1

I have been doing yoga for several years, first Hatha and more recently Vinyasa (astanga). I love it!

However, I have recently injured myself and I need to try to understand what I might have done. None of my teachers seems to have any real idea, unfortunately.

I was attempting to do one-leg crow and I felt a huge pressure in my sternum and regurgitated acid into my throat. It felt like something 'gave', although there was no real pain.

Since that time I have had persistent acid reflux despite taking medication (Nexium), although it is SLOWLY improving.

I also have an intermittent, mild dull ache/tight feeling behind the breast bone, which I don't think is heartburn-related as the acid hits me higher up (in the throat mostly). I do have a moderate hiatus hernia - this was confirmed at the hospital, and I have since had massage therapy to slowly reduce this by pulling the stomach down: I think it is working a little - it has stopped me burping all the time after food/drink (which was also happening until then).

However, I have the feeling that I may have ripped/strained something else around the esophagus - perhaps a ligament in the area? - and this is what is allowing the acid to escape. When I drink anything the swallowing action in this area feels a bit strange...

I apologize if this question seems too detailed in gastro-intestinal/anatomy terms, but does anyone have any experience or advice in this area? I really want to heal, but I don't know if this strange feeling in the chest is something I should be dealing with medically in order to reduce the acid, or if I should leave it to heal in order to achieve the same effect (for example, if it is a ligament). The western medical solution is just to take Nexium ad infinitum...

InnerAthlete2010-07-04 10:19:18 +0000 #2
Thank you for so much detail. It is not too much at all. It is quite refreshing to have someone ask for something and actually give something before the asking.

The saddest part of this is that your own personal health program (yoga) has thus far offered you nothing at all. It is ironic, especially in this environment, where members are constantly talking about the "benefits" of yoga, that your teachers have a bare cupboard and your practice itself may actually have generated, exacerbated, or contributed to the issue at hand. It speaks volumes.

With these three issues - hiatal hernia, acid reflux, and pains behind the sternum I seriously hope you have modified your normal asana practice. In Purna Yoga, the yoga in which I am trained, practice, and teach, students with hiatal hernias would not be doing bakasana as part of their asana practice.

The sternum, obviously, is surrounded with connective tissue (ligaments in this case). So of course it's possible to have overstretched or damaged some of that tissue through aggressive practices where safety and effect are not equally balanced.

What you describe sounds like an issue with the ileocecal valve, though that is located between the large and small intestines. Some skilled chiropractors do work in that area and I'd imagine osteopaths as well. Bear in mind I am not a medical professional and therefore my feedback should not be a misconstrued for professional medical advice.

Prescription drugs like nexium presume an over abundance of acid in the stomach. They therefore chemically decrease acid production in the stomach. That a) does not treat the actual issue and b) makes the stomach incredibly ineffective at its only job (digestion) as it MUST maintain an acid state to properly break down al that stuff you are eating. I advise my students not to take such medications as in my view they are actually counter-productive.

I am not deeply familiar with the anatomy of the alimentary canal. So if you are worried please see the health care provider of your choosing, if for no other reason than to soothe your mind. Shift your asana practice to one that facilitates the calming, parasympathetic nature of the nervous system so that you may heal these things fully. Continuing a pitta practice that stirs the element of fire would merely be asking for more of the same.



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