Ankylosing Spondylitis: Understanding the Rare Inflammatory Disorder
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disorder that affects the spine and joints of the body. It is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spinal joints and can lead to a stiffening of the spine. It is a rare condition, affecting an estimated 0.1%-0.5% of the population. Though women and children can also be affected, the condition is most commonly seen in men aged 20–40.
For those living with ankylosing spondylitis, the condition can cause pain and stiffness in the back and neck, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. Therefore, While there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms, including medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at ankylosing spondylitis, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and more.
What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
It is a rare inflammatory disorder that causes the spine and joints to become inflamed and stiff. It is a type of arthritis, which is a group of conditions that cause inflammation in the joints. Men aged 20–40 are most commonly seen to be affected by ankylosing spondylitis, but it can also affect women and children.
The condition can cause pain and stiffness in the back and neck, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. Furthermore, it can also lead to other complications, such as inflammation of the eyes, heart, and lungs. Nevertheless, while there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.
What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The exact grounds for causing this disease are yet unknown. Nevertheless, researchers believe that genetics may play a role in the development of the condition. In fact, having a family history of ankylosing spondylitis increases your risk of developing the condition.
In addition, certain genetic variations, called HLA-B27, are more common in people with ankylosing spondylitis. It is believed that these genetic variations may trigger an abnormal immune response, which leads to inflammation in the spine and joints.
What are the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness in the back and neck. This pain and stiffness may worsen in the morning and improve with movement. Other symptoms may include:
- Inflammation of the eyes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
If left untreated, it may lead to other complications, such as inflammation of the heart, lungs, and eyes. In severe cases, the spine can become fused, leading to a severe loss of mobility.
How is it Diagnosed?
A combination of physical examination, medical history, imaging tests, and laboratory tests diagnoses it. During the physical examination, your doctor will look for signs of inflammation and stiffness in the spine and joints. Perform the following methods for proper diagnosis:-
- Imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRI, can help confirm the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. These tests can also show any damage to the spine or joints caused by the condition.
- A blood test can diagnose ankylosing spondylitis, among other laboratory tests. These tests can detect the presence of HLA-B27, a genetic variation that is more common in people with ankylosing spondylitis.
What are the Treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis?
No cure has been found for the problem, but treatments can help manage the symptoms.. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and stiffness, maintain good posture, and prevent complications.
The most common medications used for treatment are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These types of medications are very effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Biological drugs can reduce inflammation and improve symptoms.
2) Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be used to help maintain good posture and reduce pain. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the spine and maintain flexibility.
3) Lifestyle Changes
Making lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. These changes can include avoiding activities that cause pain and stiffness, getting enough rest, and eating a healthy diet.
BraceAbility Spondylolisthesis Back Brace – Ankylosing Spondylolysis Lumbar Spine Corset Stabilizer Belt for Pars Defect Lower Back Pain, Anterolisthesis Support, Spinal Fracture Treatment (Small)
How Can I Support Someone Living With This Condition?
If you know someone living with ankylosing spondylitis, you can help them by:
- Encouraging them to follow their treatment plan and take their medications as prescribed.
- Encouraging them to get enough rest and practice stress-reducing activities.
- Offering to help with tasks, such as grocery shopping or housework.
- Supporting them emotionally and providing positive reinforcement.
- Offering to spend time with them and helping them maintain social connections.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects the spine and other areas of the body. Despite the fact that there is no cure, the condition can be effectively managed with the assistance of a doctor and appropriate treatment. If you or someone you know is living with this condition, we hope this post has provided you with valuable information about the disease. Remember to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, eat a healthy diet, get enough rest, and practice stress-reducing activities. If you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a support group or to a loved one.