Not sure if I should post here. I have some questions that I would like some input on. I am a little worried that this couild be RA or another auto-immune disorder, since my father had MS and my understanding is that that makes me many times more likely to develope some kind of auto immune issue.
I have discovered (via ct scan) that I have arthritis on my spine, and I seem to have particular trouble with my mid-back up to between my shoulder blades. I am 46 and male. I did have a holter test done 3 years back. I have had 2 stress echos, the last being a year ago. I had a thorough ct scan of my torso earlier this year, that's when they told me I had some arthritis. I woul like an MRI but I have no insurance right now. I take meds for blood pressure. The only prescription med I take for pain is Tramadol, 50 mg. It helps a little. So, I would like to describe my pain and symptoms to see if others can relate and maybe have any suggestions.
I get pain in my mid to upper back. This pain is a bit different as it isn't really a sore feeling, more of a burning, raw sensation that is not surface, but deep. The pain seems to travel around to my chest. I have an aching/burning sensation on my xyphoid process, as well as what can be best described as a deep burning or raw sensation in two fixed locations on my chest. These areas are about 3 inches below either side of my collar bone, or about halfway between my nipples and collarbone. It feels like the pain is deep and not superficial. If I lay on a hard surface with a heat back wadded up and put directly under my mid back, that seems to help. I also get a fair amount of pain throughout my chest when I stretch or twist, as well as pain radiating throughout my abdomen. Lately, I have noticed another odd one; on my right butt I get a feeling as though I sat in hot water, and then it goes away, only lasts a few seconds to maybe ten seconds at most and then goes away. It doesn't hurt, it's just weird.
Other symptoms and tests that I have had over the last 7 years include: PVC's. A lot of fatigue.
Intermittent tinnitus last anywhere from a few days to a few months
MAJOR BRAIN FOG starting in March of 2005, 24/7
chronic recurring prostate issues; enlargement
TSH test was 1.73 in 2007. Have had several since that time, at least 4. Last one in May of 2011, was 1.00.
Noticed a trend toward a lower heart rate. Not uncommon to have a resting pulse of 50.
2005 Had MRI ordered by Neurologist. Came back clear
Had sleep study. No apnea
Have had several bouts of carpel tunnel like pain on my left hand between base of thumb and wrist. Also, have had same pain on top of left foot at base of big toe (top) and up towards ankle when flexing foot out straight. (Tarsel tunnel?) Quite painful. Both included numbness.
Enlarged submandigular gland. Had neck ultrasound. No concern noted. Slightly enlarged thyroid gland.
January 2010 I developed a rash on my my stomach, right side as well as my back, right side. It was about ping-pong paddle size. At first I was concerned it was shingles since it had the location and pattern that usually comes with it. My doctor prescribed antivirals just in case (didn't take them). After 2 days the rash on my stomach shrank slightly, while the one on my back got larger, spreading a bit towards my left side. The rash looked very much like contact dermatitis. It itched alot and felt hot. I had not been exposed to any chemicals, poison oak, ivy or anything of that nature
Last year through early in 2011 had a few incidents of hypertensive spikes (180/120). These seem to have resolved.
An odd symptom that I have started having a year ago is that any time I drink alcohol, doesn't matter what kind, within about 10 to 20 minutes I start to get very sore, all through my abdominal muscles and up into my shoulder, neck. It is a soreness, not a sharp pain. However, if I lay down flat on my back, the soreness eases up. It is the weirdest symptom and I can't find anyone else that shares it.
So with your list of symptoms, let me tell you what I have had and learned from others as to what they experienced with spinal issues.
-Carpal tunnel and ankle pain is similar to what I have experienced with my spine issues as have others posting here. A compressed nerve can produce pain anywhere along the entire length of the nerve.....lumbar spine to tip of toes or neck to tip of fingers.
-brain fog......I don't know why but we have all speculated that it has to do with the blocking of spinal fluid as it circulates through the spine and brain. but it is really common in spine problems.
Many of your other symptoms...PVC's, tinnitus, abnormal thyroid tests, prostate problems, swollen lymph glands....they are all things that happen with age and the problems we encounter with life...a virus that we have trouble shaking, stress, diet, whatever. PVC's happen with age....I had 2% of my heart beats as PVC's 10 years ago at 50 and now at 60, they make up 50% of my heart beats but pose no threat to my health...only annoying! Hubby has had many of the same health issues you have with the prostate problems and lymph glands and thyroid but they all would return to normal eventually.
And the heart does slow down as we age....so your slowing heart rate is normal.
Were you ever tested for Lyme Disease with the rashes you had? If not, you should be to make sure.
As for fatigue.....I know what it's like to feel tired all the time but when you talk of the fatigue of Ra, it is something else again. I thought I knew what fatigue was until I got Ra and was hit by THAT fatigue. I would fall asleep standing up I was so tired. Literally could not stay awake if sitting down. It was as if I has just come down with the worst case of the flu you've ever had and your body just couldn't function at all and all you did was sleep.....and it went on for days and weeks and even months if not treated. You would know you were very sick if you experienced it and the docs would see it on your face. And the reason I say it's like the flu is that the source is an over stimulated immune system that can't shut down. That is what causes the fatigue of the flu....it's the immune system firing up to go after the virus and in Ra, it just doesn't shut down so that "first day, I've got the flu feeling where you just kind of collapse", it what it feels like.
As for the alcohol feeling....I find it very interesting that laying down makes it go away...that is why we with spine issues are always lying down...it helps the pain. Perhaps the alcohol makes you relax and that makes the back stiffen in response and it goes away when you lie down as the back is now supported.
Looks to me like you need to see "inside" that back of yours when you can afford an MRI!
Yes, I have had PVCs most of my life, one thing (among others) I got from my mother. They will act up sometimes and are distressing, but I try not to focus on them. My health has been on a decidely downward trajectory for 6 to 7 years. If they could figure out what it was, label it and give me some treatment options, then, even if it were chronic, I think I could learn to live with it. But since they can't, I can't. Know what I mean? The Lyme suggestion is interesting. I have been looking into that recently. Thanks for your input!