An 87-year-old Swiss woman's esophagus twisted itself into a corkscrew shape whenever she ate, causing her to suffer painful spasms in her chest, NBC News reported.

Her doctors performed an endoscopy and found that whenever she swallowed, her esophagus would twist into the helical shape. The problem had caused her to lose 11 lbs. over the past several months.

"The magnitude of this finding is extraordinary," Dr. Luc Biedermann of the University Hospital Zurich said.

Dr. Biedermann treated the woman's esophagus and reported it in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Surprisingly, this condition has happened before. Dr. Michael Vaezi specializes in "esophageal motility disorders" at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee. He says he's seen the condition many times, in fact, they "encounter these patients on a weekly basis," NBC reported.

There was another report in a 2003 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine about an 89-year-old woman who complained of difficulty swallowing, burping, and abdominal pain. Her esophagus was also helical shaped.

The reason for the esophagus twisting in this way, Dr. John Pandolfino, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, explained to MyHealthNewsDaily, is because of the way the esophagus muscles contract. Whereas they would normally contract from top to bottom one muscle at a time, pushing food into the stomach. The difference with the helical esophagus is that all the muscles contract at the same time, moving the food nowhere and causing the esophagus to be pulled into a spiral shape.

While the condition has no cure, doctors tried to treat the patient with high-dose proton-pump inhibitor drugs and long-acting calcium channel blockers, which Vaezi said can lessen the "squeeze" of the contractions. Neither drug worked for this patient.