Cricopharyngeal Dysphagia: Alternative to having esophagus stretched or dilated

I have come across many patients over the years who were not referred to me for this problem, but were referred for some other reason, who say they have had temporary relief from having the esophagus stretched or dilated, to help the UES open better, but they have to continue to have this done every year or so, and it can only be done so many times. Then, after that the physician has no other recommendations for them, no hope whatsoever!They suffer terribly with this condition, which causes great difficulty in getting food down and frequently even vomiting during meals. Some of them suffered for many years before I met them!

I've been able to completely correct this problem every single time, using the Shaker exercise, CTAR, JOAR, and lingual exercises that target the suprahyoid muscles. Full disclosure: I also use the CTAR/JOAR device I co-invented ( My patients are always extremely appreciative, but also very angry that their doctors never told them this could be fixed with exercises!

The Shaker exercise was invented by a GI, and is well documented to improve UES opening. So, surely the GI doctors know about this exercise, right? All SLPs learn about this exercise in graduate school. So, why are these patients not being referred to SLPs for this problem????

There seems to be a huge disconnect somewhere on this issue, between physicians and speech therapists, which is causing a lot of people to have completely needless, horrible suffering. Why is this happening, and what can we do to fix it???

About the Author: Jolie Parker, MSCCC-SLP is a speech language pathologist who works with patients who have difficulty swallowing or a swallowing disorder, which is called dysphagia. She has over 20 years experience as a speech language pathologist and is a co-inventor of the ISO-CTAR Throat Exercise Device, which is an exercise tool designed to help patients improve swallow function by doing the Shaker exercise in the upright position, which is also called the Chin Tuck Against Resistance (CTAR) exercise. The device can also be used to complete the Jaw Opening Against Resistance (JOAR) exercise, which is another evidence based dysphagia exercise.