Ankylosing Spondylitis & Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis
I received my diagnosis of AS when I was 74 (now 76) after years of cervical and low back issues and a cervical fusion. Went to University of Iowa Rheumatology Center and after many tests, exams, and interviews the doctors came up with the diagnosis.
Living with AS and DISH
To make matters worse, they said I also have Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH) disease. My neck was entirely calcified, and my SI Joints as well. I had bulging disks in my lumbar spine. DISH creates abnormal bone growth, specifically, it causes spinal ligaments to harden and become bone as well as causing bone spurs elsewhere.
DISH has caused eating issues and getting food to go down as the bone growth from my cervical spine is putting pressure on my esophagus which also is causing a scratchy throat, causing frequent coughing spells. I have had several incidents of pulmonary embolisms over the years and doctors say surgery to help with these issues is not advisable as the risk would be too high.
Managing the pain since a young age
I take no drugs for the pain, other than an occasional Tramadol. The pain is not to bad if I stay in my recliner. I can’t get up and move around much as the pain becomes too much. To top it all off, I was diagnosed with heart disease last year, which doctors say could be related to AS.My university doctors tell me I am in the later stages of the disease and likely have had AS since my 20’s or 30’s. I do not possess the gene marker that many have with AS. Guess that is my story.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?