About Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing means fusing of the vertebrae together which, in turn, leads to stiffness & spondylitis means pain & swelling of these vertebrae.
AS is, thus, a long-term disease, which causes swelling, pain and stiffness in the backbone, neck and, sometimes, in the hip.
The hallmark feature of AS is the involvement of the sacroiliac joints, which are the joints at the base of the backbone, where the backbone joins the pelvis.
AS most commonly begins between 15 and 25 years of age, but sometimes develops in children and older adults.It is more common in men than in women.The exact cause is not known.There is a strong tendency for family members of the affected person to develop AS, suggesting that genes play an important role.
Some people with AS generally experience tiredness or depression. Weight loss or anaemia may occur sometimes. Other symptoms associated with AS are as below:
As the disease progresses, changes in the bones can be seen on X-ray pictures of the back, neck and sacroiliac joints. The X-ray pictures show the bones gradually fusing together.
An MRI scan of the sacroiliac joints can be used to confirm the diagnosis at an earlier stage.
Your doctor may also advice a blood test to check for AS.
At present, there is no cure for AS, but there are effective treatments that can help relieve the pain and improve the condition.
AS is generally treated with medication, which reduce the pain and swelling.
Often, drugs are used that slow the progression of the disease and help in controlling the symptoms.
Exercises, especially those that promote backbone extension and movement, are recommended.
Surgery may be necessary at some point to treat the problems caused by AS in the back & other joints of the body. This includes joint replacement surgery of the hip or shoulder.
Kindly consult your doctor before taking any medications.
AS also increases the risk of developing heart disease as the age increases.
People with AS are also likely to have fractures of the backbone, the most common site being the neck.
AS can limit the movement of the chest and reduce the amount of air the lungs can hold, which, in turn, may cause breathing problems.
The treatment may vary from patient to patient, depending on the disease. However, all patients can benefit from the following:
For any further queries on Ankylosing Spondylitis, Please consult your doctor.
- Stop smoking cigarettes as people who smoke and have AS can have breathing problems.
- Maintain correct posture and exercise regularly.
- Consume an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D in order to reduce the risk of bone loss. Foods that contain calcium and vitamin D include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
- As people with AS have an increased risk of heart disease, they are also advised to have a well-balanced diet and do regular exercises.
- Back pain: One of the first symptoms of this disease is low back pain and stiffness. The pain usually starts in the lower back and worsens gradually over several months. The pain may exist over the buttocks and behind the thighs. It usually improves with activity and exercise, and tends to worsen with rest.
- Morning stiffness: It is the inability to move after waking up in the morning, usually lasting for more than 30 minutes. The stiffness in the back can be quite severe in the morning.
- Redness of the eyes: AS can cause painful or red eyes. If not treated quickly, this can further lead to partial or complete loss of vision.
- Other less common symptoms: Heel pain, hip pain and stiffness, joint pain and joint swelling in the shoulders, knees and ankles, loss of appetite, slight fever and weight loss.