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Ankylosing Spondylitis - Symptoms & Treatment


Ankylosing spondylitis is one of many forms of inflammatory arthritis the most common of which is rheumatoid arthritis. It can also affect other joints, tendons and ligaments and other areas, such as the eyes and heart. Over time, chronic spinal inflammation (spondylitis) can lead to a complete cementing together (fusion) of the vertebrae, a process referred to as ankylosis. Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Your vertebrae begin to grow together, forming vertical bony outgrowths (syndesmophytes) and becoming stiff and inflexible. Fusion can also stiffen your rib cage, restricting lung capacity and function. Ankylosing spondylitis can involve other joints as well, including the shoulders, hips, and, less often, joints in the limbs. Over time, this disorder can affect the joints between the spine and ribs, restricting movement of the chest and making it difficult to breathe. Ankylosing spondylitis affects the eyes in up to 40 percent of cases, leading to episodes of eye inflammation called acute iritis. Also called spondylitis or rheumatoid spondylitis, ankylosing spondylitis affects about 129 of every 100,000 people in the United States. Treatments can decrease your pain and lessen your symptoms. Effective treatment may also help prevent complications and physical deformities.

Spondylitis involves inflammation of one or more vertebrae. The disease is 3 times more common in men than in women, developing most commonly between the ages of 20 and 40. Ankylosing spondylitis shares many features with several other arthritis conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis , reactive arthritis , and arthritis associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis . It happens when the ligaments or tendons attached to the spine become swollen. When the swelling goes down new bone grows replacing the ligaments or tendons.  Sometimes it may become very active, causing mobility problems for the patient. There can also be long times of inactivity, when the symptoms almost disappear. Most people are able to do normal daily activities and continue to work. AS is a member of the family of diseases that attack the spine called spondylarthropathies. In addition to AS, these diseases include Reiter's syndrome, some cases of psoriatic arthritis and the arthitis of inflammatory bowel disease.

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis

The common Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis :

  • About 90-95% of patients have the HLA-B27 antigen.
  • Onset and flare-ups may be due to poorly understood environmental factors.
  • In a susceptible individual, a mild infection might stimulate an abnormal immune response.
  • Presumably, a fairly benign bacterium or virus can be antigenically similar to human ligaments.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Some Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis :

  • Eye inflammation.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Limited expansion of the chest.
  • Joint pain and joint swelling in the shoulders, knees, and ankles.
  • Neck pain.
  • Heel pain .
  • Fever, low grade.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue.

Treatment Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, NSAIDs, (to reduce pain and inflammation) .
  • Hort-term use of corticosteroids (to reduce inflammation)
  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Regular exercise, including exercises that strengthen back muscles.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Surgical fusion may be required for stabilizing atlantoaxial subluxation.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of potential complications .

 

 

 

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