The human spine is just that—human. In other words, it’s subject to the effects of age, just like every other part of the body. You might be familiar with some of the age-related issues that can take a toll on your spine over the years, such as age-related disc wear, referred to as degenerative disc disease. However, you may not be up on DISH (diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis), a condition that affects spine-supporting ligaments. Read on to learn about DISH and how its symptoms are managed.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis is a condition that results in the hardening of ligaments that connect to the spine. While the true cause of this condition isn’t known, there are four known contributing factors associated with DISH:
• Calcium salt buildup in ligaments and tendons around the spine
• Bone overgrowth or hardening
• The natural aging process
Some people with DISH have no symptoms at all. If symptoms are present, you may notice mild stiffness in the affected area of your spine. Additional symptoms may include:
• Tenderness within the affected area
• Localized discomfort
• Reduced range of motion
• Difficulty swallowing*
*This symptom is associated with DISH in the cervical spine (upper back/neck) area.
Because DISH can contribute to some serious health issues if left untreated, it’s important to see your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon if you’re experiencing the symptoms discussed above and you’re 50 years of age or older. The diagnosis of DISH typically starts with a discussion of your symptoms, a review of your medical history, and a thorough physical examination. Diagnosis may also involve:
• Applying light pressure to different spinal segments
• Range of motion/stability testing
• Image testing to identify affected ligaments
Damage already caused by DISH cannot be reversed. However, there are treatments that may prevent further progression of the condition and manage symptoms. Many of the commonly recommended ways to treat diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis involve conservative (non-surgical) options. Possibilities include:
• Losing weight or staying within a healthy weight range
• Doing various forms of physical therapy (e.g., massage therapy, hot and cold applications, therapeutic exercises, and gentle stretches)
• Getting regular exercise
• Making an effort to manage underlying conditions, such as diabetes, that may be aggravating symptoms
• Taking anti-inflammatory medications
You may also benefit from eating foods full of beneficial nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce swelling around the affected ligaments. Some of your options include green leafy veggies, berries, green tea, nuts, tomatoes, and fatty fish such as salmon. If your cervical spine is affected, you might reach a point where, to improve your ability to swallow, you need minimally invasive neck surgery. Beverly Hills patients should make sure to choose experienced spinal surgery experts if they require this type of procedure.
A good way to reduce your risk of developing a condition like DISH is to make an effort to keep the various parts that support your backbone as healthy as possible. Even walking for 20–30 minutes a day can do wonders for your spine’s soft tissues by maintaining your flexibility, stimulating core muscles, and boosting your circulation.
If the information above leads you to suspect you may have DISH, don’t hesitate to consult a spine specialist. The expert physicians at The Spine Institute lead the industry in diagnosing and treating neck and back pain with the most innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 310-828-7757.