Forestier's Disease

Forestier's disease is a rare orthopedic condition that is technically known as the diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. This can be translated as an “excessive bone overgrowth of unclear causes”.


Cause of the pathology is not clear, the disease more often affects males and we assume some genetic predisposition. It has been discovered that the Forestier's disease is related to metabolism and often affects patients with type 2 diabetes. It is an extremely rare in young people and the majority of cases occur in patients older than 50 years of age.


The victim suffers from an inadequately high calcification of bones and soft tissues of the vertebral column (i.e. tendons, ligaments, etc.). This process can, however, affect even other areas including the shoulders, ribs, knees, etc. At first, the disease may not manifest, later the patient complains about chest pain and gradually worsening general stiffness with disorders of joint mobility. Sometimes there are even swallowing disorders as the esophagus is oppressed by bone growths of the cervical vertebral column. Severe forms of the disease cause movement disability and thus significantly increase the risk of pneumonia.


The disease is usually diagnosed by an orthopedist or a radiologist. The diagnosis is probable in a patient with the above-mentioned troubles with positive confirmation of bone overgrowth by the X-ray. Positive family history is another factor increasing the probability of the right diagnosis.


As we do not know the real underlying cause, we have only symptomatic therapeutic methods. Regular physical exercise is highly advisable to preserve the mobility and painkillers are used to treat any adjacent pain. When type 2 diabetes is present, it is important to treat it properly and maintain as normal blood glucose levels as possible.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources