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Have I really got osteoarthritis of the spine/

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Old 08-24-2009, 03:22 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: UK
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rennie HB User
Have I really got osteoarthritis of the spine/


I am male, and 66 years of age. I live in the UK.

I was diagonised with osteoarthritis down most of my spine about 2 months, after having a MRI scan. This has affected my left left leg, foot, buttock, hip, and groin. After trying several different pain killers, I am now on Tramadol and Gabapentin. On a 1-10 basis, (10 high) my pain is controlled to around 1-2 whilst sitting down.

Both my doctor, and the lady at the Pain Control Clinic, both impressed on me that I was just going through a phase of pain, and that it would eventually pass!!

I am now beginning to feel that maybe the problem is not osteoarthritis (OA), and told my doctor so. The diagnosis seems to have been arrived at my the fact that OAs showed up on the MRI scan. However I was then told that EVERYONE has OA, and it is pot (ill) luck who suffers with pain, and who doesn't. The pain literally came over night, and for some time I thought it was sciatica, but apparently not.

I have suggested to him that maybe my ill controlled diabetes could be at the route of the problem, but he instantly dismissed this as being impossible.

What worries me about the diagnosis is that I am getting syptoms which, to me, don't seem to fit OA. Firstly areas of my left leg are very sensitive, and if pressed give pain too. It is so bad that even wearing trousers is uncomfortable (no wise cracks please). Even when the pain level is low, I cannot walk without a stick as every part of my leg is aches as opposed to painful. After 200 yards, walking becomes very very difficult, and the pain starts to set in. I really cannot describe the feeling. Sometimes my leg feels like a lead weight, and sometimes it feel hollow! Toothache is the nearest description I can give.

Often my left knee gives way completely, and toes start having stabs of pain

So let's assume that as everyone has OA, and the doctor has just taken an easy route, what else could trigger my symtoms?

I have tried not taking my medication, but within one hour I am doubled up with pain. The future looks bleak for me, as I cannot believe the pain will ever go away. No one seems to give me any hope that drugs can be give to actually cure my OA, as I have been told surgery is out of the question.

Any assistance would be gratefully received.



Last edited by rennie; 08-24-2009 at 03:26 AM.

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Old 08-25-2009, 11:40 AM   #2
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Rita27 HB User
Re: Have I really got osteoarthritis of the spine/

Hi Barry,

I am 53 and in the same situation. It is true that everyone gets degeneration of the spine as they age, but some of us get more than others. My doctor told me that I have enough arthritis in my back and knees for 4 people!

I know how horrible the pain is. But, in my case, I also have 3 herniated discs in my neck and a bulging disc in my low back. It presses on nerves, and that's the sharp pain.

I wish I had an answer. The only other thing is you can be tested for autoimmune arthritis diseases, which my doctors thinks I have also. This is through blood tests.

Old 08-25-2009, 06:10 PM   #3
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Re: Have I really got osteoarthritis of the spine/

Hi Barry and Rita....I'm Jenny and I've had OA since my early 20's and developed rheumatoid arthritis about 4 years ago just to make sure every joint is involved. First some info on OA. It's true that we all get OA as we grow older and it is also true that many people never get pain with it or minor pain and no one knows why. But recent research is starting to show that just like the inflammatory arthritises, osteoarthritis may be several diseases, like the early onset one I have. That may explain why for some people it hurts a great deal more and moves much faster.

Barry...have they checked to see if you also have hip and knee OA as well? might explain some of the leg pain. But I can tell you that from my experience with OA of the lumbar spine, what you describe is what I feel too...especially the heavy feeling. That comes from the arthritis causing bone spurs to build up where the nerves exit from the vertebrae in your back and press on them. If you ever find you have any problems with bowel or bladder function(can't go or can't wait)let your doc know. These same bone spurs can build up inside the vertebrae and press on the spinal cord and cause damage. are they monitoring your cervical spine? OA of the cervical spine is called cervical spondylosis and can cause damage to you spinal cord rather quickly so you need to know what to watch for. Has anyone talked to you about it and told you if you have stenosis or cord compression?

for both of you, most people think of OA as the arthritis of old age and dismiss it. Well, I've had 22 orthopedic surgeries to deal with OA so it is nothing to dismiss. It can be devastating and needs treatment and being followed regularly. My RA is well controlled with medications but the OA??? Nothing has really worked for mine. I'm glad, Barry you are finding pain relief as that is about all you can do. There is no way to stop OA. RA can kill...OA cripples. I hope they find some treatment to stop it in it's path before I die. I has done a real number on me, for sure.

Take care of both of youselves. Rita, perhaps you'll join me in the knee replacement group someday but don't rush it.Check out the Spinal Cord Disorders board to meet more people with necks like yours. And Barry, you have a lot of company. Check out the Back Problems board and you'll see.

But for both, get good treatment and keep at it. OA won't stop so you can't either.

good luck and gentle hugs...............Jenny

Old 08-29-2009, 01:27 PM   #4
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Re: Have I really got osteoarthritis of the spine/

Barry, I'm not a doctor, but from my own experience and your description, your symptoms in your leg sound very much like sciatica to me, especially when you use the word "toothache" to describe the pain. Also, when you described an area of your leg that hurt so bad it kills you to have anythint touch it. I can vouch that...that can be a symptom of a nerve problem.
Sciatica pain is pain due to compression of the large sciatic nerve, which runs all the way down one's legs. It can get compressed from different things, one being OA! OA can cause osteophytes (which is bony overgrowth on your vertebrae). These bony overgrowths can end up pressing on surrounding nerves and if it affects the sciatic nerve, one can have exactly the symptoms you described. I have had it myself several times and it is sheer you describe. Having that can also cause leg and/or foot weakness as well as pins & needles, numbness, and that all too dreadful nerve pain. I see you are taking gabapentin, which I think is Neurontin, which is a medication that can help nerve pain. There is another similar nerve medication called Lyrica which I take for my nerve pains and it does help a lot. I also take tramadol as well as Soma for muscle spasms. OA isn't the only thing that can cause sciatica; it can be caused by spinal stenosis, disk herniations, cysts, and other things. Many times an MRI will show what it is that is causing the pain, but not always.

To me the first thing it sounds like is sciatca, so I would suggest you get another opinion and maybe see if spine specialist, if possible. Do you, by chance, have a copy of your MRI report? If not, you should get yourself a copy and post the report results here.

It is true that many people will develop OA in their lifetime, but it's not true that everyone will have symptoms or suffer any pain from it. It's also that many people will get disk herniations, but not everyone feels pain from that either. Even some people with huge herniations on MRI don't even know they have it and feel no when it's found incidentally.

Old 09-16-2009, 05:48 AM   #5
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: UK
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rennie HB User
Re: Have I really got osteoarthritis of the spine/

OP here.

Since my original posting, I have had a root nerve injection, the doctor who gave it to me stating that if the pain persists after within 6 hours, then the original diagnosis of osteoarthritis causing the pain is incorrect! After one week I am still suffering. My doctor now says it maybe something else to do with the spine, and is consulting the doctor who gave me the nerve injection.

I am adamant that the pain is being caused by something not connected to the spine. Why am I having feelings of cramp, with pain, a very sensitive skin, and areas of my leg which are very tender.

Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

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