What is diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH)?
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) is a disease of the back or spine. Unlike other types of arthritis, it does not involve inflammation. It involves hardening (calcification) of ligaments and connective tissues, most often in the spine, resulting in “bony bridges” between the small bones of the back (called vertebrae). This hardening can also be seen in the tissues around other joints of the body (such as elbows, knees and Achilles tendons) causing bony growths (spurs) where the tendons and ligaments attach to the bone.
DISH is not a new disease; it has been identified throughout the archeological record had has even been found in ancient Egyptian remains. But the variability in symptoms from person to person and our lack of understanding of the disease mean that many physicians are still unfamiliar with DISH.
This information was last updated September 2017, with expert advice from:
Tom Appleton, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Western University
Jeff Dixon DDS, PhD
Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and School of Dentistry, Western University
Dale Fournier, MSc.
Candidate in Anatomy and Cell Biology, Western University
Cheryle Séguin, MSc, PhD
View All Arthritis Types (A - Z)
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Western University