A chronic form of inflammatory arthritis affecting bones that surrounds the spines is known as Ankylosing spondylitis. In order to repair itself, the body may form a new bone and the vertebrae may get fused leading to a stiff back.
That gives it the name ankylosing (fusing together or stiffening) and spondylitis (spine inflammation).
Basic Facts About Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
Ankylosing spondylitis is not amongst the uncommon diseases, its prevalence range from 0.1 % to 0.5% worldwide. Men have three times higher chances of developing AS than women. It is usually observed in people between age group of 15 to 40 years, and the average age of onset is 24 years. Men undergo more severe AS with regard to spinal fusion and immobility, though women experience more severe pains. AS is much prevalent than combined prevalence of cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s diseases.
Not Restricted to Spine
Ankylosing Spondylitis may affect other joints like knees, hips, shoulders, ribs and feet, and is not alone restricted to the spine. It may indirectly spread to other parts of the body like lungs, heart and eyes, resulting in associated problems. Severe AS may affect quality of life causing disability and health issues, leading to loss of profession or retirement.
Ankylosing Spondylitis usually get noticed as pain fluctuating from side to side, in the sacroiliac joint called as ‘alternating buttock pain’. In certain cases, pain first appears in shoulder, hip or knee that is usually misinterpreted as another type of arthritis.
Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis include an increased stiffening of spine and a chronic back pain that gets worse after sleep or long inactive period. A hot shower and certain back exercises help to relieve stiffness and pain.
There does not appear any specific cause for Ankylosing Spondylitis, but those with HLA B27 are known to be at an increased risk for developing the disease.
Ankylosing spondylitis disease may lead to inflammation of eyes, resulting in increased sensitivity to light and blurred vision. In case, inflammation reaches to valves of the heart, the aorta undergoes distortion and results in aortic valve regurgitation.
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Ankylosing spondylitis initiates slowly and diagnosis may get delayed by up to eight years. People usually visit chiropractors, back pain clinics and surgical specialists, before deciphering the symptoms as those of ankylosing spondylitis. There is no gold standard for identification of ankylosing spondylitis. It gets overlooked due to persistent back pain issues being observed normally amongst the young adults.
Forward Stooped Posture
In severe ankylosing spondylitis, spine fuses together strongly to cause immobility and a permanent forward stooped posture, called as kyphosis.
Smoking Can Be Fatal
Ankylosing spondylitis patients must quit smoking as the disease causes difficulty in breathing, and smoking worsens the situation.
Can Be Managed But Not Cured
Ankylosing spondylitis is a lifelong disorder that may not be cured, but can be well managed by analyzing its prolonged affects and working on symptoms that get treated with various available treatment options of medications, chiropractic, TENS, massage and acupuncture.