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Spine and Back Health

Living with Spondy

12/21/2011

Question:

My orthopedic doctor took lumbar x-rays and said I have spondylolisthesis. I have chronic lower back pain, stiff hips, very tight hamstrings, numb toes, and chronic pain in the backs of my knees. The first symptom I had was back pain quickly followed by the pain in the backs of my knees. I`ve been doing rehab exercises and stretching but it has not helped, so the next step is an MRI and hopefully some medication. Is there any medication available that can help alleviate the pain and stiffness from spondy? I walk with a short stride and must keep my knees bent all the time, which causes me pain in my knee caps and quadriceps. I feel like if I can just loosen up and stand up straight again my knee pain will go away, and I`m hoping there are medications available that will help me with this. My other question is regarding the areas of the body that spondy affects. As I mentioned earlier, I have chronic pain in the backs of my knees. Is this normal for a patient with spondy? My orthopedic doctor has been treating me for chondromalacia patella but has been unsuccessful. I believe it`s the spondy that`s causing me knee pain. What is your opinion? Do spondy patients usually have pain in the backs of the knees? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you so much for your time!

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. I cannot make specific recommendations for you for medications. It is usually a process of trial-and-error that you have to go through with your healthcare provider to find the right combination that works best for you. The most commonly used options are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) - these are things like Ibuprofen or Aleve - but sometimes muscle relaxants or other medications might be used. Try to avoid opiates (narcotics). People with spondys do not typically have focal pain just around the knees. If they do have leg pain it more commonly radiates from the back and buttocks down the legs. It definitely sounds like you would benefit from consultation with a spine specialist as well as continuing to talk to your orthopedic specialist. Good luck! 

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University