Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic, degenerative form of arthritis that affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. The exact cause is still unknown but genetics might play a role.

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There is inflammation inside the spine and sacroiliac joints which can trigger the formation of bony growths that often fuse the vertebrae which causes stiffness and pain. Ankylosing spondylitis can develop on its own or along with other conditions.

In every case, there are variations in the distribution of pain, inflammation, stiffness and the length of the flare-ups as well as the course of the ailment.

What are the indications?

Ankylosing spondylitis typically develops between the ages of 15-30. Remember though that it can develop before or after this range. The condition is more common among men than women.

Ankylosing spondylitis
Aching sensation in the lower back that disrupts with sleep.

The indications might be initially localized to the lower back or joint ache. The symptoms might come and go and later progress to include the following:

  • Pain and rigidity in the morning that involves the spine and sacroiliac joint area
  • Aching sensation in the lower back that disrupts with sleep
  • Pain that spreads down the legs up to the groin
  • Pain is aggravated during and after rest
  • Activity or exercise helps ease the stiffness and pain
  • Pain or discomfort in the neck, buttocks, hips, shoulders and upper back
  • Flare-up of the symptoms and then settle
  • In severe cases, there might be feeling of being sick, fatigue and weight loss

Management

  • The individual should stay fit and healthy by maintaining an optimum weight to place minimal strain on the spine as possible.
  • Maintain proper posture and mobility.
  • Avoid activities that involves abrupt twisting and turning movements.
  • Utilize a heat pack or warm bath to minimize the stiffness and pain.
  • Exercises such as swimming is ideal since it places minimal strain on the spine and joints.

Medical care

The doctor might request an X-ray and blood test to confirm a diagnosis.

  • Suitable exercises and physiotherapy is started to maintain good mobility and posture as well as counteract the stiffness of the spine.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen is usually prescribed by the doctor.
  • In some cases, disease-modifying drugs or injections are given
  • Surgery is rarely needed but essential in restoring movement or straightening the spine in extreme cases.

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