Living with DISH Disease

The difficult and often painful life of DISH disease.

I was recently diagnosed with DISH disease. Also known as Forestier disease. The medical term is Diffuse Ideopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis. For those of you who are not familiar with this it is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the thoracic spine. It causes pain and stiffness in your back and sometimes neck (I thought I was just getting old!). This diagnosis came after I pulled a muscle at work and went to see a chiropractor. He ordered x-rays to be sure nothing was broken and he discovered the DISH disease.

The symptoms are stiffness, pain, loss of range of motion and, in extreme cases, difficulty swallowing. The pain and stiffness is usually worse in the morning or after remaining in one position for a lengthy period of time. Not everyone experiences pain like I am. It is often difficult just to pick up my two year old little girl who barely weighs twenty-eight pounds.

Doctor are not sure exactly what causes this disease but they have narrowed down a few risk factors. These include :

  • Taking certain medications (such as retinoids)
  • Whether you are male or female (men are more likely to have DISH disease)
  • Age (it is common in adults over 50)
  • Having diabetes (or other conditions that raise your insulin levels)

If you are having any pain and/or stiffness you should make an appointment with your doctor. He can do a physical examination to diagnose your condition. He will press lightly on your spine to see where you are having pain and may also be able to detect bone spurs along your vertebrae. He will probably order an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

Once you have been diagnosed with DISH disease you should be aware of a few things. Such as complications and treatments available. The complications include inability to move in certain directions, difficulty swallowing and even paralysis. As far as a cure goes, there is none known. Your doctor may reccommend physical therapy or special exercises to help with your range of motion and NSAIDS to help relieve pain. If the pain is quite severe he may also give corticosteroid injections. In severe cases surgery can help by removing the bone spurs that are putting pressure on the spine. If the pain is somewhat minor you can try simply using a heating pad set to low.

It seems that most people can go on to live a fairly normal and mostly pain free lifestyle if they exercise regularly and keep their joints healthy by stretching and aerobic activity.

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  1. I’m very sorry to hear about your situation my friend. I suppose you are still on the early stage and certain measures could be done to slow down the effects. Exercise is such a big wondrous activity than staying idle at a corner. Writing is another thing, don’t forget to pray for it could make miracles. Godbless and wish to read some more articles from you soon.

  2. I too have DISH disease. I also have diabetes. I have had my knee replaced because of severe arthritis. I also have a new sudden very uncomfortable condition and the only thing I can figure it could be is a very bad spasm of the esophageus, causing pain in my sternum area around into my ribs, with the feeling of fullness. I have this symptom most days and it never really goes away it just subsides until I eat again. I also had a very bad fall about 4 years ago, which caused ankle and knee damage, and I am now aware that this fall has also caused the condition in my spine as I also have arthritis everywhere in my spine. The only reason I have come to this conclusion is because believe it or not prior to my diagnosis of DISH disease my doctor ordered a general x-ray of the spine and the technician looked at me after the examination and funny enough stated —Have you ever had a bad fall and fractured your spine????. From that day on my doctor further investigated my spine and had 3 MRI exams done which showed several ruptured discs, many ostephytes, Degenerative disc Disease, and DISH disease, and in addition to all of this cervical spondlyitis. I am on morphine for the pain and for the time being this gives me some comfort I was previously on Tramacet but I was taking far too many in order to get minimal relief. I do not know what my next step is but I watch very carefully what I eat and I keep myself fairly trim, as I use to weight 255 lbs I am now down to about 210lbs and I feel considerably better. Weight reduction, no boxed or processed foods, low salt , low sugar diet, and plenty of water seems to have helped quite a bit. Make sure you eat Fresh fruit and vegetables every day as well as your dairy products especially yogurt, and make sure you keep your diet high in fiber if you are taking constipating type pain meds like myself.


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