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Does anyone have DISH and /or OPLL?

Posted by @langteach in Bones, Joints & Muscles, Aug 5, 2011

After a recent MRI and CT, I have been diagnosed with DISH and OPLL of the cervical spine. These conditions mean that I have large flowing osephytes on one side of my spine and tendons turning into abnormal bone on the other side of my spine. The doctor wants to complete a multi-level fusion from C-3 to T-1 in a few days. Could anyone comment on the recover from multi-level fusions of the cervical spine? I worry about becoming disabled or paralyzed. I am a schoolteacher and deal with 13 yr old students.
Thank you for any advice.

Tags: spine health

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Posted by @kilkennyrose, Aug 19, 2011

I have OPLL. I'm not sure about DISH. I don't remember it being mentioned, but I might have been in a fog. I went from thinking I had a minor but annoying shoulder problem to finding out I had a rare condition that required almost immediate surgery to avoid becoming quadriplegic. I have it at several levels, but the worst is c4-c5 where the arm nerves come out. I will have surgery next week, finally, after a couple of tense weeks getting clearance from the cardiologist because of aortic stenosis, which is caused by calcification of the valve. It's not clear now whether I was born with a bicuspid valve which was worsened by calcification, or if it was normal and then fused with calcification. I am going to an endocrinologist at the end of the month to see if all this calcification has a root cause. I have found very few people on line with this disease, but there are a few at Check them out. There are some encouraging reports about recovery.


Posted by @langteach, Aug 23, 2011

My surgery went well with several fusings and a great amount of bone overgrowth clean out. You must be recovering from your procedure by now. After just a few days home, I am pain free. My shoulders ache a bit in this cervical collar, but I feel great. I am sleeping better than I have in years. We seem like kindred souls with this unusual condition of bone growth. Please write when you have time. Blessings to you in your recovery.


Posted by @kilkennyrose, Aug 25, 2011

Thanks. Yes, I am home now. Came home about 24 hours after coming out of anesthesia. I think I am doing remarkably well. The pain in my shoulder is much reduced. The pain in my neck is gone. Well I have different pain from the surgery of course. The worst problem is that it hurts to swallow. Feels like a lump in my esophagus half way to my stomach. I found out the hard way this afternoon that I have to chew my food very thoroughly or it can't go down. I am really thrilled with how the surgery went, even tho it took twice as long as he predicted. He did a very thorough job of getting the worst lump out. He ended up using a plastic graft instead of donor bone because the gap was too large. He took half or less of each vertebrae as well as the disc. He put a titanium plate in and he said he was able to screw it very securely to the bone on each side. Therefore I am no longer at an increased risk of quadriplegia from a fall or car accident. I can hardly express what a relief that is. I'm sure u understand better than people who haven't had that threat. I'm glad I just had single level fusion. Let's keep in touch. There are so few of us with it that it feels isolating. Hope your recovery continues to go well.


Posted by @langteach, Aug 25, 2011

The swallowing issue is one that lasts a few days. I discovered that Boost and Ensure gave me a good meal on those days when the esophagus was still very bulky and swollen. Try to get fresh pineapple if possible as it seems to help the incision heal right up. You sound as though you are doing well. I hope that you have someone prepared to feed you well as this is not a time to count calories. My doctor will see me on 8/29 to inspect my incision. I have not seen him since the 14th, so it will be good for him to lay eyes on my 7 inch site. I am so happy that you are doing well so far. Rest a lot and be careful. I will keep in touch after my appt. Really wonder when I will be cleared to go back to teaching. I am just glad to be able to feel safe to walk around without worry of injury. It is a great feeling.

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Posted by @kilkennyrose, Aug 25, 2011

Thanks for the advice. It means a lot from one who's been there. I'll add pineapple to the shopping list. I have type 2 diabetes so I have to watch the carbs and the nurse from my health insurer just said eat lots of protein for healing. I was fairly active around the house off and on all day but haven't gotten any regular walks in. I'll try to do that tomorrow.


Posted by @kilkennyrose, Aug 29, 2011

I've been in the hospital since Sat. treating pain, sleep prblms. I prob. overdid it even tho didn't seem too much. This way i get ice packs, tlc, pain meds etc. on scched. plus food easy to eat. swallowing a real problem


Posted by @langteach, Mar 27, 2012

It has been months since we wrote, so I wanted to see if we could catch up a bit. What has been going on with you since September? I went back to work after my 5 level fusion. Please write if you have any further interest. Blessings!
Debra Manning
727.398.2859-call anytime


Posted by @kilkennyrose, Mar 28, 2012

Sure. We opllers are so few we have to stick together, right? I'm all healed from the neck surgery, but just had open heart surgery 3 weeks ago. The tests to prepare for the neck surgery revealed that my aortic valve had gotten much worse, but wasn't quite bad enough to prevent the neck surgery. 6 months later it had gotten so much worse it was almost in critical status. I learned things from my previous hospital stay, plus I was in a different hospital, so this hospitalization was not a problem. I'll probably be home another 3-5 weeks.


Posted by @langteach, Mar 28, 2012

I wish you the very best in your recovery.


Posted by @jessieanderson, Mar 19, 2013

Good luck to you!!!


Posted by @kilkennyrose, Sep 2, 2011

I'm not sure if you saw my previous post. If I reply to my own reply, do you see it too? Anyway, I am finally about to go home after 7 days in the hospital. I will have lots to say when I am better.


Posted by @langteach, Sep 3, 2011

I did not see your last post until today. I thought that you were home and doing well. Did you just miss the hospital food or did they send you home too soon the first time? Hope you are feeling MUCH better now. Be sure to take care so that you can heal correctly. If you get lots of sleep it seems to facilitate healing. Saw my Dr. for my 3 week post-op check. He said that I am doing fine but need to wear the cervical collar for 3 more weeks and then go to physical therapy. I plan to go back to work on 9/8, but I seem to have less energy as time goes by. Please keep in touch when you get time. Blessings and best wishes to you!


Posted by @kilkennyrose, Sep 7, 2011

I went back in because i was concerned primarily with my lack of sleep. I was sure i was experiencing sleep apnea aggravated by the narcotics. There was also concern about my incision. I think we had another concern besides. I couldn't get hold of my surgeon, so I went to the ER of the hospital where I had the surgery since they would have all the records.. They were concerned enough to hold me overnight for observation, then admitted me the next day back to the neuro ward. It turned into a nightmare of misdiagnoses, poor communication between shifts, miscommunication between doctors and nurses and more, losing vital pieces of my health information from their electronic record system, failure to document my sleep apnea and at the end poor treatment from some of the nurses and especially the discharge nurse. I acquired thrush while I was there, which multiplied my pain and misery ten fold. So now I am back to where I was a couple of days post-surgery.


Posted by @langteach, Sep 7, 2011

I too have sleep apnea and use a cpap machine(5 yrs). Did you know about your apnea before the surgery? My hospital was unable to hook me up to my machine while I was there due to the bulky cervical collar, so they just ignored my need for the machine. When I returned home, I had to request a different mask to be able to even use the cpap. I was able to sleep due to the pain killers, but I too was worried over choking/gasping while deeply asleep. The mask slips off sometimes while I sleep, but I feel much better about my sleep quality. I went a week w/o the cpap, and that was not good. Is your incision doing ok now? Sounds like you had a terrible time on your return trip to the hospital. My incision is red and thick, but I hope that it gets better with time. It looked great just after the steri-strips came off, but now it looks very new and irritated. Please know that you are in my prayers and that I wish the best recovery possible for you and your family.


Posted by @raileht, Feb 8, 2016

Does anybody know about OPLL? My partner had it when he was only 28 and they performed surgery on spine. This is something that affects mostly people from ages 60 and up or people who were in an accident. Not him, he's young and he never went through any sort of accident. They took things out from his spine and replaced them with rods--there's a scar from his nape to the top of his back. I'm not finding much literature online. Please help? I can't help but be scared for knowing so little. He's 33 now and I'm terrified of losing him. Does anybody have any idea what I need to watch out for? God, or if this even has a specific life expectancy?


Posted by @langteach, Feb 8, 2016

Dear raileht,
As you can see from the dates of my previous posts from 2011, my interaction with OPLL and DISH happened awhile back. Don't know if I can help you, but you are right that there is very little info out there to use for education. After my 5 level fusion in 2011, I have healed well and gone on to an Advil-free life. Before the fusion, I lived on ibuprofen and heat wraps for my neck. I do not anticipate further issue with my neck, but I do worry about the rods and pins in my neck wearing out before I die. BTW, this is the same surgery that Peyton Manning had on his neck and he just won the 50th Super Bowl yesterday! He had 4 procedures and more than one fusion per procedure. This condition can be corrected, but for a young person, there will always be concern about a fall and break. I have NO issues at all, and my case was 'one for the ages' or so my doctor told me at the time. I must have an xray every year to check on my titanium rods and screws, but that is all my follow-up requires. Hope this helps. OPLL just means that there is an abnormally great amount of bone overgrowth near the spine. Sometimes no action is taken, sometimes you have a surgery to fix it. I am fine and with continuing care by a doctor, your partner should be great too.


Posted by @anonymous-90348, Feb 8, 2016

Hi @raileht, and welcome to Connect.

Indeed ossifcation of the posterior longitudinal ligament is rare in someone so young, but not unheard of. OPLL is twice as common in men than women and higher incidence in the Asian/Japanese population.

You'll notice that I moved your message to this discussion thread where you'll meet @kilkennyrose @langteach @jessieanderson. It's been a while since they posted to Connect, but I hope they will return to help answer your questions.

Connect Community Moderator


Posted by @anonymous-90348, Feb 9, 2016

@lanteach, welcome back to Connect! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with @raileht. Very happy to hear you're doing so well!

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