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Rheumatoid Arthritis Questions, input appreciated

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Old 12-22-2011, 12:16 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Exegesis HB UserExegesis HB User
Questions, input appreciated


Not sure if I should post here or auto immune board. I have some questions that I would like some input on. I do not have "classic" back trouble (sciatica, etc). However, 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 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. Can anyone relate, or am I a unique case?

I am a little worried that this couild be RA, since that is an auto-immune disease and since my father had MS my understanding is that that makes me many times more likely to develope some kind of auto immune issue.

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.

Regards, Brenden.

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Old 12-22-2011, 04:01 PM   #2
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Re: Questions, input appreciated

Most arthritis in the spine is osteoarthritis as RA rarely affects the spine and if it does, tends to affect the top 2 vertebrae...C1 and 2. The pain you describe correlates with C4 with the collarbone pain, T5 or 6 with the xiphoid process pain and the butt pain could be one of several nerves. In all likelihood, it is OA. I have Ra(and OA) and it would never start in the spine and with a CT, they can see the type of arthritis and Ra arthritis looks different from OA....OA builds bone and you can see the bone spurs but Ra eats at the bone and causes erosions that they can also see.

But that burning pain is the best way to describe nerve feels like you sat in hot water...perfect!

Until you can get an MRI, you have to assume it's probably pinched nerves in your spine. What pinches them? Herniated disks, bone spurs from arthritis and any combination of those 2. You can also get bone spurs building on the tiny joints that form off the vertebrae...the facet and uncovertebral joints come to mind.

My most recent trip to the ER turned out to be a disk problem a little below where you have it....I could have sworn it was a kidney stone...hurt that much...but it was a bad disk hitting a nerve. And with that area...thoracic spine, the docs tend to not do surgery until you have major symptoms as in order to reach the site of the problem, they have to move the heart and lungs and that has a lot of risk. So you have to learn to live with it and find out what makes it feel better. I know I will not let anyone touch me until I have cord compression in that area and am numb from the hips down!

Neck problems however are usually worked on much earlier than the lumbar or thoracic areas as the possible complications with the neck are much worse. So when you get insurance, start with that area.

I use heat and anything that will massage the muscles to help my spine. The muscles spasms that come with spine problems can cause as much pain as the spine problem and heat helps me with them. Pain meds help. So do muscle relaxers. I find that sleeping on my side helps and I even bought a pillow to keep me on my sides. You'll have to experiment and find out what makes it feel better.

Sorry you have joined the ranks of spinal arthritis sufferers. Almost wish it was Ra as they have some killer meds for it now but unfortunately, that is highly doubtful . If you wanted to see a rheumatologist and get tested you could but they should have seen it in the CT and it seems they didn't. RA causes a lot more symptoms than just arthritis and can affect internal organs as well. Just to add insult to injury, I got RA after having OA for years and even had both knees replaced....and now I have Ra in both replaced knees! But it's the fatigue that gives away feel so tired that just the act of getting up in the AM makes you so tired you need to lie back down. It is very overwhelming fatigue and you didn't mention it is
probably OA......that is bad enough.

Hang in there...............Jenny(OA and RA, fused C3 to T1)

Old 12-22-2011, 05:05 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Exegesis HB UserExegesis HB User
Re: Questions, input appreciated

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for the informative post. I kept out some of my other symptoms, as I didn't know if they were germaine to this topic. To see those, so I don't double post, go to the Auto-Immune Board and check my post. I include my other symptoms there.

Regards, Brenden.

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