Ankylosing Spondylitis An Overview

Ankylosing Spondylitis – An Overview

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a condition related to your spine. This disorder is a type of arthritis affecting the back. While suffering from this condition, you will experience inflammation in your spine. As a result, you will notice stiffness and pain in your neck, back, and rib cage. Some people even develop this condition in their 20s.

When you develop inflammation, your body starts to produce additional calcium around your spine. This causes the bone to grow exponentially, causing pain and stiffness in the area connected to that region. Because of the calcium accumulated on your bones, it fuses one bone to another. When this happens, you feel irritation moving your head. In severe conditions, your spine starts to bend forward because of the calcium deposits.

If you want to prevent this condition from worsening, maintaining a healthy and active routine would be a great idea. Furthermore, you can consult with your doctor at your earliest. Maintaining a good posture is also helpful to prevent curviness in your spine.

The effects of this condition are not limited to your back and neck. You may also feel pain and stiffness in other parts of your body, including your feet, shoulders, and hips. The actual cause of this condition is still unknown. However, many experts suggest that ankylosing spondylitis is a genetic condition. So, if you are suffering from this disease, it is good to run in your family. 

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Initially, the development of this condition may lead to the following symptoms:

• You experience pain and stiffness in the lower back, especially when you wake up in the morning. However, the pain may go away with physical activities.

• You may feel pain in your hips. The pain may also travel to the back of your thigh.

• Severe pain affecting your sleep cycle.

There are chances that you confuse this condition with regular backache. Backache is the spell of fluctuating pain that appears and disappears. But, ankylosing spondylitis is a long-lasting disorder. Also, backache does not generally cause pain in the shoulder, hip, neck, and thigh. The pain gets worse if you are not active for a long time. For instance, if you are consistently sitting on a chair for an extended period, the pain increases.

Many people claim that this condition also causes stiffness, swelling, and pain in the ankles and knees. However, the pain varies depending on the movement of your body. Once the disorder affects most parts of your spine, you will find difficulty turning, twisting, and bending while performing any activity. 

Here are other symptoms that you might develop with this condition:

• Swelling and pain in toes or fingers

• Soreness in the arch of your foot or heel

• Tightness and pain of the chest. 

• These symptoms may get severe over time and also cause difficulty breathing. You will feel tenderness in your ribs. Even slight activities can also lead to shortness of breath.

• Wheezing and coughing causing pain and discomfort.

• Anxiety and depression

• You may develop chronic fatigue that does not disappear after you take some rest. This may occur due to a condition called anemia. This happens because of insufficient red blood cells. These cells are responsible for carrying blood throughout the body. Without abundant red blood cells, oxygen will not travel to the entire body.

• The development of iritis or uveitis. In this condition, you develop inflamed eyes. Initial signs for the growth of this condition include pain and red-eye. You may also feel uncomfortable by seeing the bright lights.

• You may feel hard to sit on a chair properly. This happens due to tenderness of the pelvis.

• Bowel inflammation is another symptom of ankylosing spondylitis. You can refer to this condition as inflammatory bowel disease. If you develop the symptoms of diarrhea, you should immediately visit the doctor.

Complications of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the bone. This condition may also cause pain to your entire body. Here is the body part that AS may affect:

1. Spine

While suffering from this condition, your vertebrae become weaker. This is a rare condition, but it happens. Therefore, you need to visit the doctor before a bone fracture. When your vertebrae become weak, it presses on the nerves, causing irritation. You can refer to this condition as cauda equine. This condition will increase your risk of developing sexual problems, loss of reflexes and influence your ability to control your bladder or bowel.

2. Eyes

About 40% of AS patients develop uveitis, which is an eye problem. In this condition, you suffer from inflammation in the eye. This can get severe over time. If you did not treat your disease in time, it could cause blurriness in your vision. Furthermore, your eyes will become sensitive to the light. If the doctor notices any symptoms of uveitis, they will check for the signs of ankylosing spondylitis.

3. Heart Valve

While AS rarely affects the valves of your heart, you may develop an enlarged aorta. Due to this abnormality, your aortic valve changes its shape. This causes blood to leak inside your heart. The occurrence of this condition will affect the ability of your heart to pump normally. This will cause tiredness and shortness of breath.

4. Cancer

If you are suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, there are chances that you may grow cancer. The type of cancers includes prostate and bone cancers in men. However, women may develop colon cancer. However, both genders are at risk of developing blood-related cancers.

Are You at a Risk of Developing Ankylosing Spondylitis?

1. Family History

If any of your family members had this condition, you are likely to have. A protein, HLA-B27, is available in your body that triggers the build-up of calcium surrounding your spine. In a 2002 study, around 90% of the people suffering from AS developed the condition due to their family traits.   

2. Age

Young adults are especially at high risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis. You may develop initial symptoms when you are a late teenager. And when you are at the age of 20s to 40s, your symptoms become more prominent.

3. Sex

Males are at a higher risk of developing this condition than females.

4. Ethnicity

The occurrence of this condition does relate to ethnicity. For instance, if you are of Caucasian descent, you are more likely to develop the disease than any other origin.

Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Currently, we do not have any proper cure for the condition, ankylosing spondylitis. However, the treatment that you will undergo will help you manage the pain. Also, it prevents you from disability. Therefore, it is essential to timely visit the doctor after you notice any symptoms. A professional health care provider will diagnose your condition and reduce the symptoms. They may also prevent other complications, including bone deformity.

• Medications

You can reduce the inflammation and manage the pain by consuming Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including naproxen and ibuprofen. These drugs can save you from further complications. Also, these medications are long-acting drugs that provide relief for a long time. When you cannot seek help from NSAIDs, you should visit a doctor and ask them to prescribe an effective medication. Corticosteroids are also potent in reducing the symptoms. But, the effects of this medication are short-term. This indicates that by consuming this medication, you slow down the damage to your spine. 

• Surgery

When your condition becomes severe, and you develop calcium deposits in your hip joints or knees, you should seek help through joint replacement surgery. At some point, this surgery becomes a necessity. Also, if you have a bad posture because of fused bones, you may undergo osteotomy. A surgeon will perform this surgery by removing the bones or realigning them to the normal position of your spine.

Conclusion

Ankylosing spondylitis is a condition that exponentially grows symptoms over time. This indicates that your condition could get worse, leading to permanent disability. Unfortunately, as this condition is chronic, there isn’t any effective treatment. However, many people suffering from the disease find exercising, medication, and therapies helpful. As a result, they were able to reduce their inflammation and avoid damage to their spine.

Treating the symptoms through exercise, physical therapy, and medication takes time, but you will find relief through these treatments. Consult with a doctor before following any treatment option. A professional healthcare provider will diagnose and identify the severity. Then, they will design a treatment plan providing comfort and ease. Keep in mind that the seriousness of this condition will drastically increase over time. Therefore, it would be best to seek immediate help whenever you notice any Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms. 

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