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Diagnosed with Osteoarthritis at age 29
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dmbk5 posted:
I was just diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the L4, L5, and S1 joints. I started about 2 years ago (at age 27) with stiffness and slight soreness for a few hours after repetitive bending (i.e. cleaning, gardening) but would go away. Never any major pain.

For the past 10 weeks I have had lower back pain and tenderness. My doctor told me a week after the pain started that it was a pulled muscle and prescribed physical therapy for 2 months. The physical therapy did help initially but plateaued after a month. I am in a lot less pain that I started with, but still have it. 8 weeks later I returned and she said she still thought it was a muscular issue and told me I would have chronic back pain the rest of my life. She never ordered any Xrays or MRIs. She did refer me to a rehabilitation physician.

I had my appointment with the rehabilitation physician 2 days ago and she immediately requested an Xray which I had done that day. I received the results this morning of osteoarthritis in the L4, L5, and S1 joints due to "wear and tear". She did say that I am pretty young to have this and scheduled me to get a joint injection to treat the inflammation.

I am a very healthy person. Have always eaten super well (lots of veggies and fruits) and exercised 2-3 times a week before the pain came. I am a healthy weight at 150 pounds and am 5'10. I have never been an "athlete" just used the ellipitical, lifted light weights, walked, and attended cardio classes. I have never had any major trauma to my back.

I am just wondering why I have this? I am worried that it may be a sign of an autoimmune disease. And also, will I always have this constant pain? Or does it just flare up at different times? The specialist told me that it would likely get worse as I get older. Are there things I can eat, supplements I can take, and exercises I can do to help? Earlier this year my husband and I talked about trying for a baby this Fall. Will this diagnosis effect my pregnancy?

Any information is greatly appreciated!
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Scott Zashin, MD responded:
OA is most common over 40. I often check for too much iron(ferriten) in patients who have early OA. While not common, some patients do not metabolize iron well which can be a risk foactor for OA. It is best to avoid medication if trying to conceive so I encourage my patients to see how they are feeling before trying to conceive. Talking with the rehab doctor will be useful and hopefully reassuring to you.
 
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anita532 responded:
I also have OA of L4 L5 S1. Initially the pain was a 30 on the scale 1-10. Steroid injections are helping greatly. Took a few injections before it felt like they were helping because the inflammation was so incredible. My OA started at age 50. I believe it was due to all the physical abuse I endured while I was growing up. I also have OA of left hip, neck, right thumb. It keeps creeping around. Not good.

Why, you ask? Yes 27 is young. Ask yourself why people get hashimoto's thyroid at age 25 (me). Ask yourself why people get Sjogrens at 26 (me). Ask yourself why other peole get diabetes at age 20 (not me). Life hands us crap. We have to deal with it.
 
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anita532 responded:
Glucosamine really does help. It might take up to 2 months before you see a difference. I am also on an anti-inflammatory of a cox-1 and cox-2 combined. It is called Mobicox and is well tolerated with NO side effects for me.
 
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An_247230 responded:
I was first diagnosed with OA in my early 30s ( I'm now almost 58) . I was in good shape and not at all overweight. Now I have it in both knees, both feet, and both ankles, and I've had to give up crochet because it makes my hands ache. My advice is to swim. Even if you are no good at it, start small. I now swim a mile in less than 45 minutes 3 or 4 times a week, and it helps tremendously. I also don't sit still for very long as moving makes me feel better. Avoid heels. There are lots of cute flat shoes out there. Trust me, I'm tiny and have to buy mine in the kids' department, so if I can find them, anyone can find them. I now get a cortisone shot in one knee a few times a year, and that really helps. I also take the weakest (7.5 mg) of Mobic (either one or two pills) if I've had a particularly bad day and couldn't get to the pool. I only need it once or twice a month.

Like another responder said, why ask why? My doctor's answer to that question was "because". I figure it's not deadly, so just be glad and live with it. Keep your chin up ... You can get through it!
 
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col3567 responded:
I have had OA in L3,4,5 since I was 13 yrs old. I'm 66 now. After it was finally diagnosed which in 1959 took several months, I was treated with ultrasound which put it in remission until my mid 30s. I have had my right knee replaced, micro decompression of L3,4,5 13 yrs ago. My OA is now in both feet, the other knee, neck, lower back (still), right hip and right hand.
I made the mistake of getting heavy in my mid 40s. Of course that made things worse. I still struggle with my weight and now I cannot do much exercise. Water exercise is the best - plenty of resistance without the pressure on the bones.
Listen to your doctors, don't let the pain get too severe and don't be afraid to take pain meds if you need them.
Best of Luck
 
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Ranagrande replied to anita532's response:
I am 54. Blew a disc at 19. It seemed to heal itself with time. However, over the years and having an active lifestyle with water sports and all the weekend warrior stuff, the wear and tear took it's toll. There came a time when chiropractors would not touch me. Oh, I tried all the natural remedies on the market but none seemed to help. A discogram showed a pinched nerve, spurs etc. My dad had the same condition when he was alive. I moved thru the modern Cox-2 inhibitors with little suscess, then to tramadol, then to hydrocondone (i hate hydrocodone). After another MRI two years ago it was discoverd much like your condition, that my L series was in bad shape and I had "END PLATE" changes. I am now taking Oxycontin 20 mg twice per day. OC eventhough it is extended release, is not something you can just stop taking. The withdrawl systems are similar to herion withdraw. I quickly figured out that one must be careful to take thier medications as prescribed. Otherwise, if you run out you WILL spend several day sick waiting for the refill of the narcotic OC. Good luck.Living with pain has become a way of life. The Natural remedies mentioned just do not cut it once your spine has reached a very poor condition. You cannot buy a new lumbar.
 
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georgia888 replied to Ranagrande's response:
Hello Ranagrande,
I wanted to both laugh & cry while reading the last line of your post. Knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, even ankles can be replaced but the spine is a whole other animal.

My lumbar is also in pretty bad shape with arthritis & stenosis. I'm slender & have always been very active so it's tough. I do daily water exercises & that helps but I still have lots of pain. I'm 56.

How mobile are you? Do you require a walking aid?

It helps to learn of others situations.

Thank you,
georgia


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