After the rain, the sun will reappear. There is life. After the pain, the joy will still be here. – Walt Disney

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is also called AS and is a rare type of arthritis that causes pain and stiffness in the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis can often be a lifelong condition. It usually starts in the lower back but can spread to the neck or other joints. Severe cases cause the spine to become hunched.

Possible Causes:  

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that affects your spine. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling from your neck to your lower back. Ankylosing spondylitis has no known specific cause, though it may be related to certain genetic factors. 

It has been observed that people who have a gene called HLA-B27 are at a greatly increased risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis. However, it cannot be conclusively called an ankylosing spondylitis cause as some people who have the gene don’t develop the condition. 

Risk Factors:  

Risk factors for ankylosing spondylitis are:

  • Gender: Men are more likely to get the disease than women. 
  • Heredity: It can be inherited from your parents. There is a common gene, called HLA-B27, responsible for AS. 
  • Age: It tends to begin between your teens and 30s. 

Signs & Symptoms:  

An ankylosing spondylitis symptoms checklist is: 

  • Over time, ankylosing spondylitis causes severe stiffness as new bone grows on your spine, fusing the vertebrae and making it difficult to move. 
  • There is constant pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips. Also, you may feel pain in other joints such as your knees, shoulders, and jaw. 
  • An overgrowth of bones affects mobility. You may find it difficult to expand your chest when taking a deep breath due to fusion of the ribs. 
  • Spondylitis also affects some of the ligaments and tendons that attach to bones. This causes pain and stiffness in the area behind or beneath the heel. 

If AS is untreated, due to the modified vertebrae your posture will become stooped. Breathing problems, heart trouble, eye problems, inflammatory bowel disease leading to belly pain, cramps, lack of appetite and weight loss are some other signs. Other symptoms include psoriasis, fatigue, swollen toes or fingers and fever.

Diagnosis:  

In order to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis, the rheumatologist would first speak to you regarding the pain and inflammation that you are experiencing. The discussion will cover the age at which the pain started and how long you have had it, and whether it gets worse with any exercise or activities. 

A physical examination of the joints will be conducted to observe the inflammation in joints or limited mobility. Next, your medical history and family history would be understood. A rheumatologist will then take over your case. 

X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans and blood test are also used as ankylosing spondylitis tests.  

Treatment Options:  

At Medcare, your specialist will inform you about ankylosing spondylitis treatments and recommend the one that suits you. Medication options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic DMARDs. Sometimes, surgery can help a curved spine or neck as well as damaged knees and hips.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • Is there a test to detect the gene that causes ankylosing spondylitis?

    A: Those with the HLA-B27 variant are at a higher risk of developing the disorder than others, Although, it is not a diagnostic test, this gene can be detected in a blood test.

  • I have ankylosing spondylitis, why do I feel so tired all the time?

    A: If you are in pain due to ankylosing spondylitis, then you may not be able to sleep well, which can lead to feeling tired. However, tiredness can also be a symptom of the disease itself. 

    Ankylosing spondylitis indicates that there is an inflammation in the body. Your body needs energy to counteract it, and this can lead to fatigue as well as anaemia. So, discuss your tiredness with your rheumatologist and follow the prescribed treatment.

  • How do biological therapies work?

    A: Biological therapies are newer treatments and can be very effective to treat AS. They target specific proteins in the immune system that produce inflammation. Biologics are given through injections or infusions. The rheumatologist may administer one biologic, observe whether it benefits you, and continue the same drug or change it.  

  • What are the early symptoms of spondylitis?

    A: Early symptoms of spondylitis generally include pain and stiffness in the hips and lower back. You usually experience this pain in the morning or after long periods of immobility. Other early symptoms include neck pain and fatigue. You are more likely to notice these symptoms in certain parts of your body, such as the lower back, hip joint, spine, etc.

    If you watch out for early symptoms of the condition, it becomes easier to catch it at an early stage and begin treatment to stop the damage from escalating. 

    Need an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your spondylitis? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Is ankylosing spondylitis an autoimmune disease?

    A: Ankylosing Spondylitis has been classified as an autoimmune-type of arthritis, as well as a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the spine and causes pain and inflammation in the area. 

    There is still some confusion amongst experts whether ankylosing spondylitis is a complete autoimmune disease or not. But as of today, it is classified as being similar to an autoimmune condition. 

    Many doctors also refer to this condition as being auto-inflammatory, meaning that the immune system does have a role to play in the inflammation caused in ankylosing spondylitis.  

    Need treatment for ankylosing spondylitis? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What is the difference between spondylosis and spondylitis?

    A: Spondylosis is a type of degenerative spinal arthritis that causes tingling, numbness and weakness in your arms. On the other hand, spondylitis causes pain in the shoulder, neck, hands, back, and legs. It can affect young people too due to causes such as poor posture, extended periods of sitting, and prolonged use of computers.   

    Another main difference between these two conditions is that spondylitis is caused by inflammation related to the body's overactive immune system. On the other hand, age-related wear and tear of the bones or tissues of the spine is the primary cause of spondylosis. 

    Need treatment for spondylitis? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What happens if ankylosing spondylitis is not treated?

    A: When ankylosing spondylitis is left untreated, the chronic inflammation that results from the disease ultimately causes the bones of the spine to become fused. This leads to a decreased range of motion while turning, twisting and even bending. The inflammation also ends up spreading to your other joints, including the hips, shoulders and ribs. 

    Leaving ankylosing spondylitis untreated may also increase the risk of fractures, cause difficulty in breathing and may even cause heart damage if the inflammation reaches your heart. Hence, do not take ankylosing spondylitis lightly and consult a doctor for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

    Need treatment for your spondylitis? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What is the best treatment for ankylosing spondylitis?

    A: The best treatment available for ankylosing spondylitis is taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAID medications that we commonly prescribe for reducing pain, stiffness and inflammation include Naproxen, Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, etc. 

    These medications are the first stage of treatment, and most patients experience relief in their symptoms after taking these. They are also able to resume their daily activities to a great extent.

    However, there are many other treatment options available for ankylosing spondylitis, and the sooner you start treatment, the better your chances are of managing the condition.

    Need expert's help in managing ankylosing spondylitis effectively? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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