Ankylosing spondylitis definition: This form of arthritis is chronic and painful. It affects the joints, fibrous tissues, bones and muscles of the spine and it can lead to disability.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) name comes from two Greek words that are ankylosing and spondylos, which mean bent and vertebra respectively. Add the word itis, which is inflammation in Greek, and you describe an inflammation of the spine. The cause of ankylosing spondylitis is still a mystery, but some findings show that a large number of people suffering from this condition have a HLA-B27 gene. However, this is not the only cause, so research is ongoing.
Though the outcome of this condition is not clear, most patients go on with life, though with some adjustments to ensure their bodies can handle the changes caused by AS. It does not have a cure, but there are effective ankylosing spondylitis treatment ideas that work for many patients. It is not a rare condition as many assume. In fact, it affects a large population especially people aged between 8 and 45 years.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms
Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms may show when a patient is in his/her teens, and increase gradually from 15 to 30 years. The attack on the spine starts at the lumbar spine. It eats into the sacroiliac joints and starts the journey towards the thoracic spine. The system may fight this attack by healing itself, but the new bones form on top of the old spine causing stiffness of the back.
The symptoms of this disease differ and they develop gradually. One person can notice the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis within a few months while another person can take years to develop AS. Things to look out for are
- Back pain
- A painful rear
- Swellings on the joints
The back pain is worse in the morning especially when you move. The pain may also wake you up every night. The joint pain, caused by arthritis may go lower to your hip and knee joints. These areas at times may be warm or they may swell. When suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, you may also show symptoms of enthesitis that include inflammation above the shin bone, Achilles tendon, under the heels and swelling of the end of your ribs.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis
The doctor will ask you a few questions to get a background of your situation. Visit the general practitioner ready to answer questions like
- What symptoms you have seen
- When the symptoms began
- Whether the symptoms started gradually or came at once
- How the problem has affected your routine
Ankylosing spondylitis emedicine blogs and websites can help you learn more about AS and its symptoms. You may use the ankylosing spondylitis quiz and the hundreds of ankylosing spondylitis pictures on websites to assess your condition, but you must visit a doctor for diagnosis.
The ankylosing spondylitis test involves blood tests and imaging tests. Generally, no test is definably for diagnosis of this condition. Instead, the doctor will use analysis of your symptoms together with a few tests to determine your state.
The doctor will conduct a blood count, check the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and the C-reactive protein. Through these, the test for spondylitis is concluded by evaluating the level of inflammation in your body. If the test shows you have swellings in the spine and joint areas, the doctor will refer you to a rheumatologist.
Other tests will follow such as an X-ray of the lumbar spine to look for any damages or new bones formed over the old bones. The rheumatologist will also use MRI scan to scrutinise changes in the sacroiliac joints further.
Nevertheless, ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis may be inconclusive more so if the changes are not clear. The best way to identify this condition is evidence of several symptoms. For example, damage to the joints should be visible on the imaging tests, have a stiff lower back and a chest that fails to expand fully, Additionally, there must be evidence of lower back pain that is unbearable when you rest and easy when you move or exercise.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment
Get relief from the ills of this condition through
- Pain relievers
- Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) blocker
- Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
Exercise makes you flexible, improves your posture, reduces pain and stiffness and lets you sleep better. There are recommended exercise routines that can prevent further pain and damage to your bones so you need to consult a doctor or physiotherapist before attempting any workout. The focus should be improving your cardiovascular system, muscle strength and posture among other things.
Ankylosing spondylitis exercises may also be part of the prescription alongside pain relievers and other ways of treating AS. Physiotherapy has also proved to be an effective way of combating this disease. There are several techniques for this treatment method such as electrotherapy, hydrotherapy and massage. The physiotherapist will also take you through individual and group workouts.
Surgery is the last option in treating AS. The damaged joint is replaced with an artificial one to ease the pain and enhance mobility and functionality. If the whole hip joint needs replacement, the surgical process you require is known as a total hip joint replacement procedure.
Ankylosing spondylitis prognosis can show progressive stages of AS to help in developing the right treatment strategies based on the state of the condition.