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.