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Arthritis and Rheumatism

What kinds of arthritis affects whole spine?

03/29/2007

Question:

I have stiffness in my whole back, with soreness in my sacral spine and neck. It is hard to turn over in bed because my upper back is stiff, and if I bend forward it is hard to breathe from the tightness around my chest. The doctor took an MRI of my neck and low back and said I had DDD with spurring in my cervical spine, and cervical stenosis. He also said I had DDD in all levels of my lumbar spine, foraminal encroachment, disc bulging, facet disease and lumbar stenosis at L4-L5.

I want to know if he should image my whole spine to get a complete picture, to find out why my upper back is so stiff also? And is it normal to have so much wrong with one`s spine? Where can I find a good spine doctor? My doctor is an intern, and he does not listen to me or answer my questions. He recommended physical therapy, and I am not satisfied with that. What should the proper course of treatment be? (I am a middle age female, in Euclid Ohio, with trouble walking and I feel sick all the time.)

Answer:

Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) of the spine can certainly affect the entire spine. However, the degree of involvement you describe is out of proportion to what is expected in someone of your age. There is also need to consider diagnosis of spondyloarthropathy (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) if there is such severe stiffness in your spine. Proper treatment is dependent on the proper diagnosis. You may wish to call University Hospitals- Case Medical Center referral center and get an appointment in Rheumatology. We have Rheumatologists available throughout the Cleveland area.

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Response by:

Johnny  Su, MD Johnny Su, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University