What is Forestier’s Disease?

02 Apr What is Forestier’s Disease?

Coping with Forestier’s Disease

Named for the doctor who discovered it, Forestier’s is a rare form of degenerative arthritis. Also known as diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), this disease attacks the ligaments of the body and turns them to bone. This leads to joint stiffness and eventual loss of mobility.

DISH can occur in any part of the body, but most commonly affects the spine and lower back. Some people have DISH in their neck ligaments, which can make swallowing difficult.

When it attacks the ligaments of the feet and ankles, Forestier’s results in heel spurs, small sharp growths of bone that appear along the heel.

Causes of DISH

The causes of Forestier’s or DISH are not clear. It’s more likely to occur in men and in people who are over 50. It’s also more prevalent among people with diabetes, prediabetes, obesity or other conditions that affect their insulin levels. Some researchers believe it may have a genetic component.

Symptoms of Forestier’s

Forestier’s does not always produce symptoms. In some cases you might experience:

  • pain and stiffness in your joints, especially in the morning;
  • loss of motion in your feet, lower back and other affected areas;
  • inability to stretch fully;
  • pain in your back, knee or heel.

You should always consult a doctor if you’re experiencing pain and stiffness or if you have bone spurs.


In most cases, Forestier’s causes mild discomfort, allowing patients who have it to live with the symptoms through a combination of pain relievers, stretching exercises, surgery to remove bone growth and other interventions.

In others, the disease can continue to progress, resulting in complete loss of mobility in the affected joints.

Fractures are a serious complication of Forestier’s because the stiffness of your tendons makes your bones more likely to fracture if you’re injured.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no cure for Forestier’s, but you can get relief from the symptoms through a multi-pronged approach.

Treat underlying conditions. If you have diabetes or another condition associated with insulin resistance, getting that condition under control will help minimize the Forestier’s symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight will also help.

Get pain relief. Ask a podiatrist for pain relievers that can treat joint stiffness in your legs, feet, and ankles. Your doctor might prescribe corticosteroid injections for more severe pain.

Increase mobility. Gentle stretching exercises can keep your ligaments from becoming overly stiff and brittle. Ask your podiatrist to recommend a regimen for your feet and ankles that will keep them moving.

How a Podiatrist Can Help

If you or someone you know is suffering from this condition, a podiatrist can help. At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we will prescribe treatments to ease your symptoms and help you adapt to living with this disease. We can help relieve pain from heel spurs to make walking more comfortable.

Don’t let the complications of Forestier’s or other arthritic conditions prevent you from doing the things you love. Call our office today and set up a consultation that will help you get on with your life.

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