Gastrointestinal Motility

Our specialists diagnose and treat GI motility disorders that affect the way food and liquid move through your digestive tract.

El Camino Health has doctors who specialize in the field of gastrointestinal motility disorders, also known as neurogastroenterology. Neurogastroenterology is a rapidly developing field uncovering new knowledge about how the esophagus, stomach and small and large intestines function as food and liquid move through the body. We have increased understanding of bacteria’s role in the gut and the role of brain-gut interaction in controlling abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.

Our training and experience enable us to effectively diagnose and treat functional problems in your digestive tract, as well as pelvic floor conditions. We are sensitive to the physical and emotional impact these conditions may have on you, and offer support and comfort as we work toward solutions.

We help you navigate easily through our system and connect you with people who can help, including nutritionists, speech and physical therapists and more. For more information or if you're having an endoscopy procedure and want to know what to expect during an exam, read our frequently asked questions about endoscopy.

Conditions We Treat

GI motility disorders we treat include:

Symptoms of Motility Disorders

Functional problems with the flow of food and liquid can occur anywhere along the digestive tract — from the throat to the rectum. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the problem, but include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Gas
  • Feelings of fullness not consistent with the amount you've consumed

Diagnosis and Treatment

Our doctors carefully evaluate you and offer a variety of diagnostic tests to measure how well areas of your digestive tract are functioning. Once we have answers, we create a personalized treatment plan for you.

New developments in treatment are changing lives for many people with motility disorders. At El Camino Health, we offer a number of treatment options, including:

  • Biofeedback therapy. Our therapists can help you use your mind to achieve voluntary control of muscles that normally function automatically. Biofeedback relieves chronic abdominal pain or other functional problems of the digestive tract by teaching you how to strengthen muscles and improve coordination for better function.
  • Botox injections. Botox can relieve symptoms and promote healing of esophageal, stomach and anorectal disorders.
  • Gastric electrical stimulation (Enterra). If your stomach is unable to empty its contents into the small intestine (gastroparesis), you may experience chronic nausea and vomiting. When medications don’t work, we can implant a neurostimulator beneath the skin in the lower abdomen to provide symptom relief. The battery-powered device works by delivering impulses to smooth muscles in the stomach that stimulate them to push food into the small intestine.
  • Medications and dietary changes. Our doctors evaluate your current medications and make adjustments to those that cause gas or other side effects to the digestive tract. When diet is linked to symptoms, your doctor will suggest appropriate changes, such as adding more fiber or avoiding certain foods. 
  • New medications. Domperidone has been approved for symptoms of GERD and gastroparesis.
  • Pneumatic dilation. Your doctor may use this endoscopic procedure to loosen the lower esophageal sphincter muscle if it’s obstructing food from moving into the stomach due to achalasia (disorder of the lower esophagus).
  • Sacral nerve stimulation. Your doctor implants a device beneath the skin in the upper buttocks to deliver electrical impulses that stimulate nerves that travel through the lower back (sacral area) to the pelvic region in order to redirect or change abnormal messages about rectal function. The goal is to help restore coordination between the brain and pelvic floor, bowel and sphincter muscles. This, in turn, may relieve bowel incontinence and chronic constipation.
  • Secca® procedure. Through a scope, your doctor can deliver radiofrequency energy (heat energy) to alter tissue in the anus and improve your muscles’ ability to recognize and retain stool.