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Osteoarthritis progression

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
I am far for an authority on this subject, but, I have been researching it more and more since I am a prime subject.

My first spinal surgery was in 1978, my last in 2000. Since then I have herniated several thoracic discs, plus re-herniated some L4/L5.

Around 2003, I started having some mild problems with my shoulders. In 2006 I had a bone scan which should concentrated areas of arthritis in my shoulders and knees.

Fast forward to 2006, I had very difficult times lifting my arms over 90 degrees. I went to a shoulder specialist who injected some deep cortisone/steroid in my joints. That provided relief for almost 18 months. Then the same problem occurred and I kept going back for shoulder injections every 6 months.

Finally in 2009, the injections were not helping and the doctor did not want to do any more injections. Some MRI and X-Rays identified that my arthritis was progressing very rapidly and that the need for complete shoulder replacements were mandated.

I had a set of X-Rays in Jan 2010 and a month before my surgery, I had another set done. It was a bit unclear as to why the arthritis was progressing so rapidly. By the time of my April 8th surgery, there was the bone on bone situation was at its max.

I am progressing rather well, 3 months post surgery and just working on building up shoulder/arm strength as well as the rest of my spine before my next complete shoulder surgery replacement in October.

What baffles me the most and what I haven't been able to get detailed answers on is WHY the arthritis progressed so fast! For years, it was taking a normal course, but then within the past 6 months it accelerated so quickly.

Why? Was there something I did or didnt do?

I am working with all of my doctors to see if we can come up with some medical answers. So far, nothing.

The only answer that has common threads is that once you have multiple spinal surgeries you are a prime candidate for arthritis.. But how fast it accelerates is still a bit unknown.

I plan on doing more and more research, because to me, there has to be some common denominator between spinal surgery and arthritis progression.

Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com


  • My bones show I have osteopenia and found some links to help heal,stop and even reverse osteoporosis. I started taking chondroiton and Glucosamine a couple of weeks ago and found these articles. Anyone can send me a PM if they want the links. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey Ron,
    For me osteoarthritis was the cause of me having my past spinal surgeries and the surgeries I will be having in the near future. OA has basically made it's presence in just about every joint in my body. I too have taken a big interest in researching the cause and progression of this disease.
    For me, genetics is the key player. There is no cure for this disease and everyones symptoms are not exactly the same. Could I have done anything differently to prevent this? My Dr said no, in fact I am doing everything right, never smoked, kept my weight in check, ate healthy, and have taken Glucosamine/Chondroitin for several years.
    This disease has attacked my body like wildfire, I can actually see it progressing. With the help of my primary care physician, rheumatologist, orthopedic surgeon, and two neurosurgeons, we are constantly making a plan to keep me living a fairly normal life. Am I getting worse? Yes, I was told to expect it but I must stay focused on moving forward and being as active as I can be without doing more damage. For me it is a challenge to fight this battle, I may not win, but I'm not going to lay down and let it consume me.
    Anyone feel free to PM me if I can ever be of any help or support you if you are battling with OA.
    Take care,
  • I too have just found out that my knee's are both bad. My left knee has been bugging me for a year or so but my PC said it was nothing, last Thursday it got bad and I saw my OS Tuesday (he did a Arothoscopic Meniscus repair a few years ago).

    I have OA in both knees and am is shock and disbelief right now. I am looking at partial/total knee replacements eventually and major life style changes. I still have major problems in my back.

    Looking at my knee x-ray was like looking at my back x-ray all of the cartlidge/disc space has collapsed. Both of my knees are bone on bone. I had the MRI yesterday. Things are moving way to fast. I took an injection of steroids into my knee Tuesday to see if it would help. It helped the pain a tad.

    When I was 30 and the chiropracter told me I had arthitis in my back (he said everyone had it). I wish I would have went to see a specialist/osteopath some one.

    I am 42 now and can only look forward to more of this fun.

    Ron I am looking into the possiblity of a systematic yeast infection as to why the OA is running rampant?

    Steroids, Antibiotics, Food Allergies etc can cause some of us to have pretty severe problems. I am thinking they might be the root cause to my health issues. I want to try to kill the yeast.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    to see if there was any signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis or any possible systemic causes.

    Everything can back negative, so at least in my case its not blood or systemic related

    Still searching for answers.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Sounds like a case of which came first the chicken or the egg. For some people I have heard of the arthritis is the reason for surgery. For other friends the surgery seems to bring on arthritis. In my case I developed severe arthrosis within two months of spine surgery.

    The common question for me is what what is causing the arthritis. Heretitary is probably one cause that we can do little about. If you lay it out then it would seem that something is happening or missing that is causing the arthritis for the rest of us. And surgery sure seems to speed things along.

    I wonder if the spine is sending signals to the body that cause chemical changes when there is a change to the spine? Or I wonder if it's as simple as not getting enough water (see thread about cola vs water)?

    If we understood this one we would be gazillionaires. Isn't there a drug for osteoarthritis that claims to reverse bone loss? Maybe that is the key.
  • Sorry to hear that.

    Good luck,

  • This is an interesting Thread. I did what I often do when I read an interesting topic. Read it and head to Google. So I'm researching just enough to be dangerous on OA.

    I just had a recent visit to my surgeon. He recommended before we go any further with more surgery we do a complete work up with a Rheumatologist for arthritis/fibro. He is convinced there is arthritis doesn't want to guess on the extent, says he is no fibro expert. From what little research I have done I tend to agree no Fibro. My appointment with the Rheumatologist is tomorrow.

    I have no intentions of hijacking this thread I just wonder if you have any idea what one could expect or anything special they should be sure to bring up with the Rheumatologist.

    Honestly, I so despair going to new doctors. All my surgeon told me to do was take him my films and after he received the doctors notes he would decide if an MRI or CT scan of my hip and pelvic was needed next.

    Again, I don't want to hijack the thread and make it about me. I'm just reading this thread thinking some of this sounds very familiar.

    Maybe I could just get some general what a person can expect when going through the workup for arthritis. I would think they will be looking at Osteo not rhem.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    In terms of pure Osteoarthritis, I think normal X-Rays and MRI's along with Bone scans can identify the area , and the degree of arthritis. When I starting having bone on bone in my shoulders, the doctors only wanted to look at X-rays, since they indicated that would tell them more.

    Now with rheumatoid arthritis its a different animal. Its basically an auto-immune disease. Blood work and clinical examinations should identify if that is what you have.

    Some people have both. I know now mine is all osteoarthritis, and its the pain in the joins and moving that hurts the most.

    For some people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it can be so disabling when it hits the hardest

    In any case, I just think the entire subject of arthritis needs to be review, researched and more information be made available.

    Years ago, I thought that arthritis only meant that as you get older you have trouble moving your fingers. Was I naive!

    I started this thread looking for input from other members, to me, its wide open, no one has to worry about hijacking this topic. Bottom line, its all about what arthritis in any form can do to create pain and discomfort.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks Ron, I have been in the Arthritis boat for all my years. They just called it DDD back in the day, and sent you home. The funny thing - is that all of my blood work too comes back clean, but the issues progress along. It is like there is a hidden agenda or disease at work, at times that changes the present circumstance and all of a sudden - I notice when I have lost yet another form of recreation - or work related task - or something along that line.

  • "Years ago, I thought that arthritis only meant that as you get older you have trouble moving your fingers. Was I naive!"

    I remember when my grandmother used to talk about her arthritis and her fingers were bent and misshaped, I used to massage them for her because all she took was aspirin which helped very little.
    When I was diagnosed 3 years ago at 53, I remember telling my doc that I didn't expect to have to deal with this until my 60's or 70's. I also didn't expect it to hurt or bother me that much. I have it in my cervical and lumbar area rapidly moving to my knees.
  • I have auto-immune type arthritis. I to tested negative for everything so they treated me for years thinking it was Osteo Arthritis.

    But with my Dad having RA being Seronegative and with my positive response from Sulfa drug the Rheumy dr. thinking differently now.

    Thank god I had a family doctor brave enough to RX sulfasalazine. Otherwise I would be stuck at ground zero.

    Some people are seronegative/undifferentiated. Therefore they get DX with Osteo or Fibro.

    And its almost impossible to get DMARD or TNF type drugs unless you test positive in a couple areas.
    And its almost impossible to get a DX for auto-immune Arthritis if you are seronegative.
    Now a days Dr. just don't want to take the risk unless they can show proof on paper.

  • I'll try to be brief - Had 2 ACDF am now fused C3-6. First was for HNP, C5-6 with numb fingers in traditional pattern. Had SLAP repair right shoulder for unknown reason, then AC joint separation that led to resection. Continued with Rt upper arm line of burn, so back to spine surgeon. Flexion-Extension xrays showed significant opposite movement of vertebrae C3 &4. At surgery, more HNP too. Pain gone. Two years out, posterior posterior neck pain. New doc took x-rays and found eroded dens at C2 and asked if I had RA and ordered full body scan for arthritis and MRI of neck. Scan showed only mild OA rt medial knee. Nothing about neck! Because of red knuckles and aching across back of hands, and concern about C2, got in to see Rheumy. MRI review inconclusive for RA. OA is showing in hands but in the usual RA sites (knuckles, wrist.) Because ana was 1:160 and other lab values borderline, rheumy has depended on his clinical exam. Started on Plaquanil which greatly helped morning stiffness and hands. Clinically OA symptoms have rapidly spread to hips, iliac crests, lower spine (have severe osteoporosis lumbar), elbows, over the past 12 months. Working dx is connective tissue disease and OA - in spite of labs being stable. Am having more brief episodes of lightheadedness and I am concerned about the OA at C1-2 progressing. I think it is time for another xray for evaluation. Spine doc thinks I am kinking vertebral artery with certain head position.

    My point being that I feel OA can progress with and without pain, rapidly, and not always can be documented by lab values or xrays, MRI etc. Since there are a variety of 'arthritis' types, it can be hard to identify which one is really causing the damage - just treat the symptoms and see what works.

    When my neck reduced me to tears, rheumy gave me low dose predisone (5 mg day) and within 24 hrs the pain was gone. So was it CTD flare, lupus, OA?? He also said the LDP was a long time treatment for OA too and I can take it whenever I feel I need it. I tried going off the Plaquanil and lasted 3 weeks before the morning stiffness returned worse than ever, so restarted it.

    There is still much they don't know about why and how OA (and other related conditions) progresses. It is not always linear - more like up and down. It isn't always present (pain/swelling) and can last 1 hour, 1 week, 1 month, bad with weather changes, etc.

    Yes, many people had the more traditional bone on bone knee or hip OA. But OA can hit other areas more subtle at first and then rapdily escalate. So I am glad to have a rheumy that depends on clinical exam and my noted symptoms rather than just lab values....as others have noted, there are seronegative types of arthritis and related conditions. I do periodically review the current professional literature for any new theories.....
  • The first changes that cause osteoarthritis usually occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of bones and cushions joints begins to clear. The smooth surface of cartilage and lubricating fluid in the joints of the joint to move easily and without pain, but a combination of age, overuse, and perhaps an inherited tendency to develop osteoarthritis may cause the cartilage to wear gradually.
  • I have "moderate" OA in my neck & mild in one hand. Both hurt.

    Per my GP, xrays don't show any nerve impingement in my neck, but I have a lot of symptoms, including burning at the base of my neck. So, meh to the xrays.

    I worry too, that this is going to be a progressive thing.
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