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Ankylosing Spondylitis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2023

What is Ankylosing spondylitis ?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis which affects the spine. It is characterized by stiffness and pain from the lower back to the neck. The vertebrae(spinal bone) fuse together resulting in a rigid bone. Early treatment and diagnoses helps to control stiffness and pain. It can also prevent or reduce significant deformity. Ankylosing spondylitis can have signs such as pain, stiffness, bony fusion and pain in the tendons & ligaments. Yet as such the symptoms of the condition is not limited to the joints.

Is there a difference between Spondylitis and Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Even though they both are associated with bones and joints, there is a difference in the nature of damage they cause to it.

In the case of Spondylitis, the symptoms may resemble arthritis that is inflammation between the spinal joints. This inflammation causes fusing around the bones making it difficult for the patient to move or have a straight posture.

On the other hand, Spondylosis causes wear and tear in your joints. The damage can escalate as you age and make the watery disks between joints wear out causing a gap between the two or growth of bone spurs making the stiffness and pain worse.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness in the lower back
  • Blurred vision
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Inflamed tendons
  • Sleep disorder
  • Physical deformity

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis

The cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis have not been determined yet. Despite such, some researchers say that there is a strong hereditary link. The HLA-B27 gene is said to be particularly responsible for this condition. But then again statistics found that 10 % people who have this condition also show no symptoms of the condition.

Diagnosing the condition

It is difficult to diagnose the condition with general diagnostic testing such as physical and symptomatic testing. Other diagnostic procedures such as X-rays of the pelvis and the back, measuring the chest while the patient breathes, lab tests infer comparably more confirmative results. A general physician should be initially approached if one experiences or entertains suspicions of the condition’s symptoms. He/she would direct you to a concerned specialist when required.

Can vitamin D deficiency cause Ankylosing Spondylitis?

The root cause behind the occurrence of Ankylosing Spondylitis is still under the shade, although some studies have shown its connection with a genetic mutation which makes it very difficult to get triggered by a specific vitamin deficiency.

So it's no, however deficiency of vitamin D can increase the complications as its key function in the human body is to boost the supply of calcium.

How is the condition treated?

Unfortunately there is yet no cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis, yet clinical research is in progress. Despite such symptomatic treatments have been observed to reduce discomfort and improve functional abilities. Such treatments aim to abate pain, rigidity, persisting stiffness, regain posture and stance and many cases prevent deformity. Many patients, after such treatments have reportedly been able to resume normal activities with relative ease. Generally a team of physicians comprising of doctors, physical and occupational therapist tend to the patients.

Physical and occupational therapy is found to be very helpful and important to maintain functional abilities of the body and minimize severe deformities. Therapists also suggest customized exercised regimes. Breathing techniques and swimming are the most advised form of exercises.

What is the best treatment for Ankylosing Spondylitis?

The key objective of the treatment will be focused on decreasing the risk of further complications and current symptoms of pain and inflammation. Some of the best methods may include:

  1. Medications:

    The course will include anti-inflammatory drugs. Depending upon the severity of inflammation it can be common drugs like Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers and interleukin-17 (IL-17) inhibitors. These medications also help you to get relief from stiffness and pain. Consult your doctor for the dosage and consumption methods as they can develop other medical conditions if not taken properly.

  2. Therapy:

    This part of the treatment consists of the physical maintenance of the body. Your doctor may ask to follow a certain set of exercises, sleeping, and walking positions for pain relief. Most of them include stretching which revives the body's lost flexibility.

  3. Surgery:

    Going under the blade is not your doctor's first suggestion in case of Ankylosing Spondylitis. It is only recommended if the swelling causes permanent joint damage which needs to be replaced.

  4. Home care:

    Home remedies play an important role in the recovery process. One can use methods like heat or cold compress, baths, and pads to treat the areas of pain and swelling.

How do you permanently cure Ankylosing Spondylitis?

In the case of Ankylosing Spondylitis, there is no cure. However medical science has developed certain treatments and medications that can help you decrease your symptoms. The treatment will also aid in fusing and stiffening the bones.

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Is Ankylosing Spondylitis serious?

Ankylosing Spondylitis can be a very serious medical condition as it can create complications like:

  • Eye redness and puffiness leading to vision impairment, light sensitivity, and pain.
  • Lack of locomotion
  • Tiredness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders like ulcers, sensitive stomach, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases like ischemic heart disease, aortitis, conduction problems, etc.
  • Cauda equina syndrome
  • Amyloidosis

Can you get a disability for Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Yes, as per the guidelines of disability Ankylosing Spondylitis is considered a disability because not only it affects individual locomotion but also hinders daily life activities due to the heavy stiffness, uveitis, and spinal fusion.

One may not be able to sit, walk, or create any movement with discomforting pain.

Does Ankylosing Spondylitis affect teeth?

Yes, in some cases if the inflammation creates any barrier between the jawbones, it may result in stiff jaws, gum infection, dislocation of teeth, etc.

When should I call the doctor for Ankylosing treatment?

You should immediately consult your doctor if you have the following symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis:

  • Persistent and severe back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • You feel extreme pain in the midnight or morning
  • Inflammation of eyes
  • Redness of eyes
  • Severe light sensitivity

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You should discuss your symptoms with your doctor and ask whether these symptoms are normal or not. Ask about the guidelines to care for yourself. Discuss the treatment plan with your doctor, which treatment alternative will be the most suitable for you based on your symptoms and condition.

What is the best diet for Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Here is the list of dietary alterations that one can pursue to boost their recovery during Ankylosing Spondylitis:

  1. Add colorful and rich in antioxidants foods: Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants contain free radicals which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
  2. Grain it up: Adding whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat will keep your heart healthy and help you lower the risk of heart problems via spondylitis inflammation.
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids: Also known as healthy fats, it is known to decrease inflammation naturally. Coldwater fish or fish oil supplements are some of the options.
  4. Add calcium and vitamin D to your diet: We know that calcium is one of the key components of bone health and vitamin D helps the calcium to dissolve in the body. Add foods or food supplements that are rich in Calcium and Vitamin D can help with pain and weakness.

What not to eat with Ankylosing Spondylitis?

You should avoid the following food items if you have Ankylosing Spondylitis:

  • Sugar
  • Red meat
  • Salt and high sodium foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Alcohol
  • Wheat and gluten
  • Dairy products
  • Anti-inflammatory supplements

What are the exercises for Spondylitis?

Here is the list of exercises that can be beneficial for the patient with spondylitis:

  1. Press Up Your spine: Recommended once a day in 3-5 rounds of 10-20 seconds.
  2. Wall Sit: Recommended 3-5 times a week in 5 rounds of 10 - 20 seconds each.
  3. Plank: Recommended 3-5 times a week in 5 rounds of 5 seconds each.
  4. Standing Leg Raises: Recommended every day in one round of 15 times on each side.
  5. Chin Tucks: Recommended twice a day in 3-5 rounds of 10 - 20 seconds each.
  6. Roll Your Shoulders: Recommended every day in one round of 5-10 times each side.
  7. Stretch Your Hips: Recommended every day in one round of 20-30 seconds on each side.
  8. Corner Stretch: Recommended every day in one round of 20-30 seconds on each side.
Summary: Ankylosing Spondylitis can be described as a medical condition where the patient suffers from inflammation between the spinal joints. This inflammation causes fusing around the bones making it difficult for the patient to move or have a straight posture. Even though there is no cure for the disease, several methods of treatment may help you with pain management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 4 body areas affected by ankylosing spondylitis?

Four body parts affected by ankylosing spondylitis are the spine, hips, knees and shoulders.

What were your first symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?

Most commonly, the first symptom of ankylosing spondylitis is back pain and stiffness.

What is the life expectancy of ankylosing spondylitis?

Even if you have ankylosing spondylitis, your life expectancy is the same as a normal person.

Can ankylosing spondylitis go away?

Ankylosing spondylitis can not be cured but the symptoms can be managed.

Can homoeopathy cure ankylosing spondylitis?

Homoeopathy can help to relieve the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.

Is yoga good for ankylosing spondylitis?

Yes, yoga can help to reduce stiffness and chronic pain.

References

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