Treating Different Types Of Digestive Motility Disorders

The moment that food or liquid touches your lips, the digestive process begins. Nerves and muscles help to guide this food down your esophagus, into your stomach, through your intestines and eventually through your colon and out of your body after key nutrients have been absorbed. We don’t tend to pay much attention to the way food moves through our digestive system unless a problem develops, and when an issue with how food is passed through your digestive system develops, it’s known as a motility disorder or dysmotility. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at where motility issues tend to develop along your digestive tract and how a specialist like Dr. Bhatti can help you treat a motility issue.

Types Of Motility Issues

Motility issues can develop in a number of different locations along your digestive system. Here’s a look at some of the more common locations for motility problems to set in:

  • Esophageal Dysmotility – Your esophagus is a common spot for motility problems to develop, oftentimes caused by a condition like achalasia, in which nerve cell degeneration inhibits esophageal muscle function. Nerve and muscle damage caused by untreated acid reflux and GERD can also affect esophageal motility.
  • Stomach Dysmotility – Certain health conditions that affect the stomach can also cause problems for how foods and liquids are passed through your digestive system. Dumping syndrome and gastroparesis can lead to expedited or delayed gastric emptying, complicating the digestive process.
  • Intestinal Dysmotility – Intestinal obstructions, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and issues like constipation or irritable bowel syndrome can affect how nutrients are absorbed and waste is passed through the intestinal tract.

Symptoms will be dependent on the location of your motility disorder. For example, an individual with esophageal dysmotility may experience difficulty swallowing or notice that food and bile is coming back up from their stomach into their lower esophagus. Patients with motility concerns in their stomach or intestines may experience bloating, cramping, nausea and general discomfort in their midsection. Because these symptoms mimic other issues, and because motility problems are oftentimes the result of another underlying condition, it’s best to undergo an official diagnosis to determine what’s going on and how to best treat the digestive issue.

Diagnosing And Treating Motility Problems

Your gastrointestinal specialist will begin by reviewing your medical history, asking about your symptoms and conducting a physical exam. To get a better understanding of what’s going on in your digestive system, they may conduct a blood test, a barium x-ray or similar test that helps the doctor understand digestive nerve and muscle function.

Treatment will be highly individualized based on the underlying cause, but many people can find relief with simple diet and exercise modifications. Becoming more active, journaling your food choices, eating healthier options and staying away from foods that tend to cause symptoms can help you manage your motility issues if conditions like IBS or constipation are contributing to the issue. Certain medications can also help to treat underlying conditions that are causing digestive dysmotility, but your specialist will still want you to pair these medications with lifestyle improvements.

Other patients may need some more hands-on treatment. Injections and even a surgical procedure may be ordered depending on your root cause and whether or not your issue has improved with the help of conservative means. Most people will not need to pursue surgery for their motility problem, but if a tumor or intestinal blockage is causing the nerve or muscle issue, an operation may be the best option. Your doctor can go over the specifics of your operation should it progress to this point.

If you believe that foods and liquids just aren’t moving through your digestive tract as they should be, reach out to Dr. Bhatti. We’ll work with you to provide an accurate diagnosis and set you up with a treatment plan to get everything back on track. For more information, or to talk to a specialist about a different gastrointestinal issue, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today at (952) 368-3800.