Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) is a condition where the ligaments and tendons harden. It is a type of arthritis. This condition can cause pain, stiffness and decreased mobility. DISH can be managed through physical therapy, surgery, medications and the application of heat.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) is a skeletal disorder that causes ligaments and tendons in the body to calcify (harden). These calcified areas can also form bone spurs (abnormal new bone growth) that can cause pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility.
While DISH usually affects the spine, it can also occur in other areas throughout the body. DISH is a type of arthritis. It is also called Forestier’s disease.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
DISH is uncommon in people under 40 years old. It develops more often in people over 50. It affects more men than women.
DISH is caused by calcification and the abnormal growth of new bones. Calcification happens when ligaments and tendons harden because of a buildup of calcium salts. Doctors are not certain what causes these conditions to occur.
Some people with DISH have no symptoms. Doctors find the condition when examining X-rays taken for a different reason.
When symptoms of DISH do occur, they include:
A doctor diagnoses DISH with imaging tests, including X-rays and CT scans. These tests enable your doctor to see the bony growths.
Diagnostic tests help doctors rule out conditions that involve similar symptoms, including other types of arthritis.
Treatment cannot stop the calcification or bone growth associated with DISH. Instead, treatment aims to manage symptoms and keep the condition from progressing (getting worse).
Treatment options for DISH include:
If DISH develops in the ligament that runs along the spine, it can compress (put pressure on) the spinal cord and cause paralysis. Other complications that people with DISH may experience include:
You can reduce your risk of DISH by maintaining a healthy weight and blood sugar levels. Limiting your use of medications containing vitamin A also may make you less likely to develop DISH.
People at higher risk for DISH include those who:
DISH does not affect life expectancy. Many people with DISH can successfully manage their symptoms and live healthy, active lives.
If left untreated, some symptoms of DISH can get worse over time. It is important to get prompt treatment to ease symptoms and keep them from progressing (getting worse).
Contact your doctor if you develop any signs or symptoms of DISH.
If you have DISH, you may want to ask your doctor:
Many people with DISH do not have any symptoms. They can keep up their routines as usual.
If you receive treatment for symptoms, your doctor will let you know when you can get back to your usual activities.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/02/2018.
Learn more about our editorial process.