Arthritis in spine - only 35

Hi all, I hope you don’t mind me sharing my story with you.

My GP diagnosed me with having Osteoarthritis in my cervical spine last week, which came as a real blow. I’m only in my mid-thirties and I can’t really understand it.

I had a sudden onset of severe pains before Christmas that were so bad I didn’t know where to put myself. I am in pain every day now, although the severity and type or types varies. My GP did an X-ray, and told me at the result appointment that I have “significant, pronounced” arthritis which is affecting my nerves. I have pins and needles and numbness in predominantly my left foot, but sometimes it is also in both feet and hands and the back of my head. I have a phone appointment with him tomorrow because I still have so many questions, particularly about pain relief and what the future looks like. I really want to ask him if he would test me for Rheumatoid Arthritis, as I have multiple autoimmune conditions already: coeliac disease, hypothyroidism and vitiligo. I have had several abnormal antibody results since about age 20, and my old gastroenterologist told me I had another, as-yet mystery autoimmune disease. Her colleague also said that it was probably a connective tissue disorder, so if it turned out to be RA it would make sense, although I know from the lady I spoke with on the Versus Arthritis helpline that Osteoarthritis can develop at pretty much any age. My mum and a couple of my aunts had Osteoarthritis, but on my dad’s side there is a lot of autoimmune disease, so who knows. I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place!

I am sad to read what the rest of you are going through. A lot of it is, unfortunately, familiar to me. Funnily enough I’ve had symptoms of this for about twenty years, so I don’t know if I’ve had arthritis all along and not known about it.

Thanks for bearing with me for this long message!

Take care,

Miranda x

Comments

  • Brynmor
    Brynmor Member Posts: 1,829

    Hi @Miranda

    I understand you've had a recent diagnosis of osteoarthritis in your spine which is causing significant pain and you are now awaiting a course of treatment in order to help manage the condition.

    Our website has a good overview page of information on osteoarthritis:

    Plus a dedicated page on osteoarthritis of the spine:

    As Helplines have already noted, osteoarthritis can occur at any age and this may well be linked to your other autoimmune conditions.

    Do let us know the outcome of the telephone appointment as there are bound to be questions that maybe the Community can answer.

    Best wishes

    Brynmor

  • Miranda
    Miranda Member Posts: 15

    Thanks Brynmor. My GP appointment today was disappointing. He was kind, but the pain relief situation is not good. This seems to be an inherent problem with the treatment of arthritis. I take codeine periodically, but this causes constipation and often doesn't work. I am not allowed to take oral NSAIDs because of my gut history, so I suggested the topical ones to my GP. He said that, given my gut history, he would rather that I didn’t take them at all. I suggested Pregabalin for the nerve pain as I was on this before for anxiety, but he said that he was considering Amitriptyline. I said that that would be risky as I’m already on an antidepressant, which he said was true. However I was on this years ago for gut pain and it helped enormously with that. He has prescribed me topical ibuprofen nonetheless, so that it’s there if I need it, and Omeprazole to counteract the risk to the gut.

    So there you have it! I await my assessment with the physio next week who is going to gauge the nerve situation, possibly order more tests like an MRI, and (hopefully) do blood tests for the inflammatory stuff. I wish I knew more about what my nerves were doing, because I’m afraid to live my life for fear of making the pain and numbness worse. This would also help me to decide whether to try a sports massage again because I had a friend who used to do these and they worked wonders. The problem is, if you’re applying pressure to the cervical spine area and there are nerves involved it’s a risky business. I also want to know if I have inflammatory arthritis because that would allow me to access the drugs that treat it (though being on these isn’t a barrel of laughs!).

    Thank you for reading this, and I hope that this message helps others in a similar situation know that they’re not alone.

    Miranda x

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,765

    Miranda, you're in a horrible situation. Many of us on here are unable to take NSAIDS but the fact that potentially helpful meds might interact with ones you're already taking for other problems makes things more difficult.

    I think, with your family history (and your own) you are absolutely right to ask to be tested for an inflammatory form of arthritis. I didn't know physios could do blood tests but so much to the good if yours can. Also, a good physio can be a wonderful source of information both for you and for your GP who is clearly doing his best in difficult circumstances. I do hope next week's appointment will yield some helpful news. Please let us know how it goes.

    By the way, I have always found the solution to meds-induced constipation is to drink lots of water, tea etc and eat figs, dates and prunes. I don't particularly like any of them but just see it as taking more meds - and ones that won't damage or interact with anything.

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