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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Of the many types of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is the one that affects the spine. In this disease, there occurs an inflammation of the spine causing pain and stiffness of the spine. The condition is characterised by the inflammation of the sacroiliac joints. Sacroiliac joints are the joints seen at the lower end of the spine , which joins the pelvis.In this condition, the vertebrae in the spine fuse together in a fixed position leading to kyphosis (forward-stooped posture), and the process of fusion is known as ankylosis . As ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease, whole body tissue can be affected apart from spine and other joints.

What can be the cause for ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis,is an arthritis form , the exact causes of which are still not known completely, although various factors are believed to be the causes. Some of them are genes, and environmental factors. It is assumed that ankylosing spondylitis is common in males than females. Genes such as HLA-B27 is known to be the potential agent to cause the disease. Other genes such as ARTS1 and IL23R are also thought to be the risk factors in causing ankylosing spondylitis.

What symptoms are to be checked?

The symptoms associated with the ankylosing spondylitis is the in and around severe pain of sacroiliac joints. Morning stiffness of the lower back bones , pain in buttocks, and hip that last more than three months are the most commonly noted symptoms.Forward-stooped posture leading to immobility of the spine is seen in patients with advanced stage.

What complications are associated with ankylosing spondylitis?

There are some complications associated with ankylosing spondylitis. They are eye inflammation called the uveitis, leading to blurred vision. Compression fractures and damage to the nerves passing the spine are to be taken care off. Scarring of the lungs leading to frequent coughing and breathlessness are other complications.

How to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis ?

Different tests are conducted to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis. The best suited diagnostic test is MRI, as it can detect the ankylosing spondylitis in the early stages even when no symptoms are exhibited. X-rays are also utilized for this purpose , but early stage detection is not possible with these tests, however as the disease progresses, these tests can be employed for the diagnosis. Blood tests are conducted to detect the HLA-B27 gene, but it is not necessary that the patients with these genes have ankylosing spondylitis.The Schober’s test is also performed for the diagnosis of AS

what treatments are available for ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is not a curable disease , however the the symptoms exhibited by the patients can be treated. Treatments are available to reduce the pain,the inflammation, swelling or stiffness, enabling the patient to lead an active life. Disease progression can be slowed down by taking medications and strict monitoring of the results after regular tests. In the early phase of ankylosing spondylitis, certain lifestyle changes such as regular physical exercise like swimming or aerobic exercises, lying flat on the floor, caring the joints and healthy diet are recommended. In certain cases, doctors may suggest surgeries as joint replacement when different joints of the body are severely affected.