Severe spinal OA

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Gui4
Gui4 Member Posts: 7
edited 14. Jul 2015, 09:40 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi, I've just joined as I have been diagnosed with severe OA in my spine. I suspect I have it in other parts of my body but the MRI was for lower back so I will find out in due course.

I am only in my 40's and I have been in a lot of severe pain. It's restricting me day to day. Any helpful advice or support as to what I might expect and how to manage it would be gratefully received. Thanks.

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  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 3,635
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Welcome to the forums where I'm sure you will get a lot of help and good advice from all the lovely people on here.

    It is a little quiet being the weekend, but I'm sure that someone will be along shortly to help.

    We are here if you need any support to do with using the forums. Many of the mods have some of the many varieties of arthritis and we all know about the feelings that go along with having it.

    Do read and post across the different topics that you will find here.
    All best wishes

    Mod Yx
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,731
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hello Gui4 and welcome from me, too. Sorry I can't help. I have RA and my spine about the only relatively decent bit of me :lol: but I just wanted to say hello. I'm sure others, with more to offer, will be around soon.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Gui4
    Gui4 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Thank you sticky wicket and mod. I appreciate you welcoming me. Hopefully someone will post who has experience of OA.

    Thanks again.
  • elnafinn
    elnafinn Member Posts: 7,412
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hi Gui

    I am sorry to hear your diagnosis. I have oa in my spine and in other joints too. It started in my spine I presume as I used to suffer from low back ache when dawdling and then got worse. Then my thumb joints joined in, later on both knees and top of the spine, so gradual over many years.

    I do not really know how to help you as much as I would like to do as you have not given much information. All I know is that, for me and this is something I firmly believe in exercise. Use it or lose it, is my motto and keep the weight down if possible if you think you should. I have never run marathons or anything like that, but just keep moving, walking every day,that sort of thing. I used to do yoga for many years, now it is tai chi.

    Has a pain clinic been mentioned to you by your doctor, do you take medication? If you can give us some more information it will be easier for us to help, support and advise you.

    Elna x
    The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

    If you can lay down at night knowing in your heart that you made someone's day just a little bit better, you know you had a good day.
  • Gui4
    Gui4 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hi Elna,

    Thank you for your reply. Sorry that you've had to deal with OA.

    I'll try to keep as active as I can and will ask about a pain clinic. The pain came on suddenly last year and was severe. I could barely function with it for several months. It's settled a little but I have constant pain in my lower back and aches in other parts like my hands. I've been prescribed painkillers but I find they just dull and make me feel crap.

    I used to do yoga so will look to starting doing that again.

    I'm not sure what info would be helpful for you to know. Please let me know. Thanks.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hello, I too have OA but as a result of my other arthritis. My spine is unaffected but all the useful leg joints are troubled and I am reliant on walking aids. It's not fun. :wink:

    On-going grinding pain is, ummm, challenging to live with, being nineteen years in I'm used to it now and grateful that I can no longer remember being pain free. Pain is frightening and always worse at night when the day time distractions are not around. I keep my pain relief (such a misnomer) to a minimum because I can then use the pain feedback as an indication to stop doing what I'm doing and have a rest. I am fortunate in that I no longer work so that stress and pressure is removed. I cannot stand still for longer than a couple of minutes before everything fires up, I sat for far too long on Saturday at a party and yesterday was an agonizing day - getting the correct balance of activity and resting is difficult. What helps one person may not help another so it is a matter of trial and error (a lot of trial and much error) before you find what works for you. Swimming is a good exercise because the whole body is supported, cycling another because that is low-impact.

    I hope you find the forum to be of interest - feel free to ask any questions, none are too daft, because you are talking to the reluctantly initiated who know what it's like. Those who don't have it don't have a clue. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,731
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Whatever our kind of arthritis exercise(s) is / are helpful because they keep the supporting muscles strong and that, in itself, eases the pain somewhat. This is Arthritis Care's booklet on exercise.
    http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/LivingwithArthritis/Self-management/exercise-and-arthritis

    Pain relief? Yes, many of us call them paindullers rather than painkillers because that's all they do. Like DD, I keep mine to a minimum.

    You say you have pain in other joints besides your back. Do your hand joints swell and / or feel hot? Is your GP aware of the other joint problems? Has he done any blood tests for other types of arthritis?
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Gui4
    Gui4 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Thank you so much dream daisy and sticky wicket.

    I will try to keep as mobile as possible.

    I've booked another GP appt to see if they can do further tests. I do have pain in my hands and redness in the knuckles which I've noticed for several years but more pain now. My knees get sore and hot sometimes and my neck and shoulders are sore and elbows. But the major pain is in my back. It is a grating pain and like a major toothache in the back particularly in one spot.

    I've been telling the professionals for months that it is agony and severely restricting my day to day activities and because an xray just showed wear and spurs and I didn't have an indicator for ankylosing spondylitis, they just put it down to core strength and pregnancies.

    But I described specific grating pain. Anyway I asked for further tests as physio exercises weren't alleviating it and I finally had an MRI. It was confirmed as severe OA in my lumbar region.

    I haven't had an MRI for the rest of the back so I will see if I can ask for further tests to establish the extent of the OA if they agree it's needed. And blood tests. I already have an inflammatory disease (kidney) so it might be related.

    It goes to show if I hadn't asked for more tests (which the GP totally agreed with) I could've still been in the dark. Because the xray didn't show it. I knew it was my bones. I knew instinctively it was a particular point. I pointed at it. And it is exactly where the MRI has pinpointed the OA. But they didn't listen to me because the xray just showed wear and tear and spurs. The physio even said that if you're under stress (which I have been for other reasons) your tolerance to pain goes down. Heard it all before but I'm pretty tolerant of pain. This has been severe. So, if I can give anything back here, I'd say try to get further tests if the diagnosis doesn't feel right.

    Warmth to everyone who's cared enough to kindly respond and take time to write. Much appreciated.
  • Gui4
    Gui4 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Thank you sticky wicket for the link.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,731
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    You seem to believe that there is a difference between OA and 'wear and tear'. There isn't. The latter is just another way of describing the former. Many people hate the term 'wear and tear' because they feel it trivialises OA. The sad fact is that, whatever it is called makes little difference to the treatment. The docs can prescribe anti-inflammatories and pain relief. Sometimes the spine can be injected with (I think) steroids. Surgery tends to be delayed as long as possible for spinal problems. And it would be no great surprise if it had also got into other parts of your spine and / or other joints so docs don't always see a reason for further x-rays and scans.

    Your physio was right about our perception of pain being worse if we are stressed so anything that relaxes us is good. (Are you still seeing the physio?)

    If you have a family history of auto-immune diseases it would be worth telling your GP. However, not all auto-immune forms of arthritis give a positive rheumatoid factor. It's a complex business. Why not keep a diary of symptoms until you next see your GP? Is it worse at any particular time? Take photos of any swellings. It all helps.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • sorebones
    sorebones Member Posts: 6
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    I know how you feel. I have severe OA in my lumbar spine, also in my cervical spine, with 3 pairs of nerve root compressions. Both diagnosed with MRI in my 40s.

    From my experience pain management is the only help available.

    The best thing I have done for myself has been taking part in a pain management programme. Ask your GP to find out if your local health board provide one. My GP wasn't aware of it until I told her. It was my pain consultant at the pain clinic who referred me. It won't take your pain away but it will help you deal with it. You can be in charge of your pain. Not everything you learn will suit you but something will. Pacing has been my godsend. It also helps you when you realise that you are not alone in your agony.

    You will try so many things to help over the next few years. What works for one may not work for you. But please, if you do find something that helps please share it with the rest of us. I can't speak for anyone else but anything that has worked for one is worth looking into.

    I'm sorry that you are having to go through this, but believe me, you are not alone. I hope you manage to find some relief soon x
  • littleelf
    littleelf Member Posts: 69
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hello there :) and very sorry that you have such a terrible time with the OA in your spine. I'm only newly diagnosed (also in my 40's), so unfortunately, cannot be of any help to you.

    However, you mentioned that you've been to physio; and as a newly diagnosed OA sufferer of the thoracic spine and scoliosis of the upper spine/neck, I wondered what sort of exercises the physio did with you? What the physio did/talked about, with you?

    Anything you can remember would be gratefully appreciated ^_^

    Hope you get sorted out soon though xox

    Jacqui
    True strength is smiling when you want to cry; laughing to hide the pain; and going on, no matter what. <3
  • elnafinn
    elnafinn Member Posts: 7,412
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hi Gui

    When you say painkillers do you mean anti inflammatories as well? I found anti inflammatories help me but after being on them for so long they started to give me problems. The one I got on with raised my BP which I knew but it really helped but now after many years the gp and I decided to stop them. My BP has come down and I only need a water tablet. One positive outcome! I only take cocodamol 30/500 which is not as good as an anti inflammatory for me but I put up with it.

    Heat helps me with oa. A wheatbag heated up in the microwave is comforting. Hot water bottle will be ok too. Some find ice helps or alternating heat and and ice.

    Perhaps the MRI will tell more about what is going on in your lower back. Pain is very wearing/trying. Try to keep moving though.

    Elna x
    The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

    If you can lay down at night knowing in your heart that you made someone's day just a little bit better, you know you had a good day.
  • frogmella
    frogmella Member Posts: 1,111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    I had facet joint arthritis too. My experience is that The NHS do think you can live with it. I was "lucky" in that we kept on BUPA after my OH got made redundant just as my spinal problems began so I got fused for mine and am now 100% better. My story is a little more complicated than I just described and so I am something of an expert on spinal stuff having suffered for about 4-5 years since the first disc went. Feel free to ask me anything! I understand the pain you are in. I know how limiting it can be.
  • Gui4
    Gui4 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Thank you for your kind responses. And for taking the time to write in.

    I am under a physio. I have had core strength exercises before my diagnosis so I will see if they offer any other advice/exercises now the MRI results are through.

    It was helpful to hear how the anti inflammatory meds affected BP. I'm not supposed to take them due to an autoimmune disease I already have. So probably cocodamol will be my main one.

    About OA being wear and tear, I understand that is a big part of the process but it does seem there is evidence that it is part of a disease process involving wearing down (and not repairing) the cartilage inOA. For me to get it severely in my 40's I do think there must be other processes involved. http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/arthritis/a/arthritis.htm I think OA used to be understood as wear and tear and synonymous with it, but having done some limited research I believe many professionals see it as a disease which has other elements. It may turn out mine isn't OA for all I know but I will see what tests they can do.

    Thanks again.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,731
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    According to Arthritis Research UK, a trustworthy site, there is a type of OA that has a genetic component. Unfortunately not much is known about it but there is research going on. At the risk of sounding cynical (Moi :lol: ) I wouldn't hold my breath. They were researching a cure for RA when I was diagnosed in 1961. I'm still waiting.
    http://tinyurl.com/oo47w42
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • frogmella
    frogmella Member Posts: 1,111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    For what it's worth I had my facet joint arthritis diagnosed 4 years ago when I was 35. It was severe enough to warrant surgery. I don't think there is an age thing on it.