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Spinal Arthritis - The Whole Spine

Started by SurfDesigner on 06/11/2010 9:26pm

I have been having neck and back pain on and off for over a year, and at times also pain in my arms. I went through three different orthopedic doctors, two md's and one rheumatologist before I finally got the answer: my primary care physician did more x-rays today and said to me, "You have degenerative arthritis in your whole back. It's your whole spine, all the way up to your skull." If that isn't surprising enough, I am also only 39 years old. I have always been a very hard worker, and preferred physical jobs, but maybe that's what did me in? I wonder if anyone else has a similar story, and if so, what are you doing to treat and cope with this "disadvantage"?

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I got the same news at the same age. I too worked physically demanding jobs. I had several back strains from heavy lifting.
I hope your case ends up better than mine. I am on Social Security Disability since age 50..
At age 51 I had a spinal fusion/ decompression/ laminectomy at L4-5. Now, at age 55, I need a complicated 4 level fusion, staged in 2 separate sugeries done 6 days apart, on C3-4 thru C6-7. This must be done soon because I have severe spinal stenosis w/ severe cord compression,and cervical myelopathy.
I also need an 8 level fusion done above and below the previous fusion at L4-5. I will be fused from my coccyx to T2-3. I'm beginning to wonder if my entire spine will be fused by the time I'm 60.

Some tips:
NEVER,NEVER,NEVER lift anything over 20 lbs. Don't hasten the degeneration. Change jobs if necessary.
Take care of your arthritis by keeping inflammation down.
Keep your weight down as much as you can. I believe the extra weight I gained after becoming disabled made the strain on my spine much worse.
Educate yourself as much as possible, and be your own advocate. Learn the symptoms of cervical myelopathy. If I hadn't known them I wouldn't have found out how desparately I needed this surgery on my neck. It's so bad I could sever my spinal cord with a case of whiplash.
I hope I haven't scared you, but you need to know what one possible scenario could be so you can take care of yourself.
Good luck, and God bless you.

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Hello BJW-SEA,
Thank you very much for your response. First of all, it's good to know that I am not alone. Second, yes you did scare me, but I am of the opinion that fear is a good thing - it is one of the few tools we have to save us from our ignorance. Knowing what I am looking forward to, in the words of someone who has been there, and being able to communicate that to my wife, while difficult, makes it easier to plan ahead and take steps to minimize the impact on our lives. Even if my case goes the way that yours did and continues to, I know that it can be done. Thanks again.

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First and foremost, you are not alone. I'm sorry to hear that you're afflicted with this problem.
I'm 46 and have been battling back pain for about 5+ years. Just recently I found out that I had 3 herniated disks. I'm not a laborer - I work at a desk! How did this happen?!?
So, know that this can happen to anyone. I'm sure that having a physical job exacerbates the problem so practice good body mechanics! I don't know what types of treatment you're having but from talking to others in the same boat, most have said that physical therapy has really helped them. Not only to ease pain, but to learn how to have good body mechanics.
I've gone through spinal injections twice and for me, it was a total waste of time. They didn't do anything to help ease the pain. I'm starting physical therapy tomorrow and have high hopes that it will help. In addition, I live on Vicodin - usually about 4-6 tablets per day, so everyone around me knows that some days I'm just going to be pretty spacy.
I know I'm jumping all over the place (told you the Vicodin makes me spacy!) but my main goal is to tell you to hang in there. It's frustrating because as you discovered, you have to go through multiple doctors before you find out what's wrong. Then, you have to try multiple treatments to find the one that's right for you. There doesn't seem to be any quick fix. So please be careful at work, etc.. Don't hurt yourself more. Hang in there!

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I wanted to come back and add something. Most of us deal with pain; mine was, and is, severe. I used to take 90 mg. of methadone a day. Since using legal medical cannabis concentrates Ive been able to cut back to 10mg.daily. That's huge! Ive suffered through a decade of opiate dependence and the resulting constipation issues that inevitably result. Not to mention how it made me sleep 18 hrs a day, and my heart rate couldn't get over 50. I feel a lot better now, with less pain. It also significantly reduces inflammation too. I urge everybody to not knock it til you try it. You dont have to smoke it-there are medicated edibles, vapes, and all kinds of ingestibles. If you try the stronger concentrates, just work your way up to higher tolerance slowly or you'll get a headache. It can be strong medicine at over 80% THC. The worst side effects are the occasional headache, and getting the munchies now and then. I'll take that any day over opiate dependence problems!

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I was a carpenter 4 35 years,always physical,multiple sports from an early age,until 20 years of age.Congenital DDD+K,severe & extreme osteoarthritic changes throughout my spinal column.Doctors have said all the sports & physical labor did not help my condition.My father never told me of this disease until after I obtained a diagnosis.My case is rare,rapid & now involves atrial fibrilation & bradychardia,as well.If yours is not congenital you have way more options than I do.No surgical options with a positive outcome,2 docs have now abandoned me,cannot help me.Struggling with homelessness,as well,so that is really not helping my cause any,the wheels of government turn so achingly slow! spinelessinalbertaJustKeepSmilin' :) JesusSaves! P2

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I have made more discoveries in my search 4 alternative treatments,yoga is an excellent way 2 build strength in your back muscles,stimulate healing in areas nearby,1 must only do what you believe yourself 2 be capable of.This is new ground 4 every expert I see & so far they have just been agreeable.I wonder if this is because they know as little as I do,or they're waiting 2 see what happens 2 me be4 recommending it 2 anyone else!Tai chi is also an excellent way 2 promote & stimulate muscle growth,strength training the muscles with control being the #1 aim.Aquatherapy is also a very viable option 4 pain relief,in my case anyway.It takes all of the gravity off my spine,instant relief!It depends alot on the individual,& I have alot more research & testing 2 do yet.spinelessinalberta

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I underwent a second back surgery to remove both herrington rods that had broken(in less than 1yr) and during this surgery i found out my entire spine is riddled with arthritis,it didn't suprise me,just not sure why they didn't see this during the first surgery. I too,am only 47 and ive never had any illness or surgeries until i was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 45. The tragic outcome of having arthritis in my spine was during the surgery the vascular surgeon was moving veins and arteries for the orthepedic surgeon to replace a vertabrae and my iliac vein was adhered to the spine causing a tear. This brought on a whole new desease,tragic outcome? what ever you want to call it,my life will never be the same! i now have chronic lymphedema as a result of massive dvt's in my left leg. Ididn't enter this surgery lightly,infact i put it off for over 1yr trying to find another alternative. My advice is the same as the other person,be your own advocate!! the dr.'s don't always tell you everything,learn as much as you can before you let anyone cut into your body! and listen to your body,if its telling you that you cant do something than don't. Im 47 and using a walker and wheelchair,i have very little quality of life.My best of luck to you all!!!

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I have a question for BJW-SEA, did you experience withdrawls while switching over to the cannabis? or did the cannabis help with the withdrawls? im a slave to my medications,although i wouldnt have made it this far with out them. I just don't want them to run the rest,or what life i do have left. Thanks,sorry if i strayed from the subject...

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Hi again.
I had no withdrawal problems, but i did step down slowly-10 mg. per month. If anything, the cannabis seems to make the opiates work better. I will advise you to work your way down, and then tell your doctor to reduce the amount of pain meds you take. That covers you in case anything goes wrong. As most of you know, your pain level can very according to activity, weather, etc. I hope you live in an MMJ state, but if not just talk to young people, tell them what you want it for, and they can probably hook you up with a connection. MMJ states are the best because you have such easy access to concentrates. That's where the best relief comes from.Still, just smoking weed helps quite a bit. Remember if you go this route to use the internet for a wealth of MMJ info. What state are you in? Feel free to contact me via email if you want to talk more privately. It is supposedly illegal still federally.Why, I don't know.
I'm a straight,Christian woman so this isn't a come-on. washiwashi323@gmail.com
NO SPAM PLEASE,everybody!

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