Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic arthritis which mainly affects the joints and bones of spine. This condition causes fusion of some of the vertebrae of spine. Men between the ages 20-40 years are more commonly affected than women. Pain and inflammation is caused in all parts of the body especially lower back. If symptoms persist, it is important to consult a doctor immediately.
No specific cause has been detected so far. Researches state genetic disorders to be a reason. It is assumed that development of ankylosing spondylitis is associated with a specific gene called HLA-B27 (human leukocyte antigen B27). This gene is usually inherited from any family member.
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis develop fully in several months. They considerably differ for every person. The common symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness in back
- Less flexible spine
- Swelling in eye, shoulders or knee
- Fused bones
At initial stages, it is difficult to confirm the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. A physical exam along with certain tests helps in detecting the cause of symptoms. Blood test can be done to detect HLA-B27 gene. However, it is not necessary that people with this gene suffers from ankylosing spondylitis. X-rays provide clear view of the changes in bones and joints of spine. As per the diagnosis, the treatment procedure is selected. The treatment included are:
- Non-surgical Treatment:
The commonly used methods in non-surgical treatment are:
Doctors mainly use non-steroidal ant-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. These drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. In case, NSAIDs fail to treat alone, then other drugs may be added to the treatment course. They may be disease-modifying anitrheumatic drugs (DMARDs), steroid injections, etc. They reduce the inflammation, stiffness and other discomforts.
- Physical and occupational therapy
The physical and occupational therapies aim to restore the functionality of the joint. The physical therapy strengthens the muscles and tissues. As such, a flexible and healthy body is achieved. Occupational therapy gives new ideas to perform day-to-day activities in an easier way.
A set of simple exercises gives relief from pain and stiffness in the joints. This reduces the risk of any further disabilities. Swimming and deep breathing exercises are mostly recommended.
- Surgical Treatment:
In majority of people, surgery is seldom used in treatment. However, if acute pain and swelling occurs in the joint then surgery may be chosen. The surgery mainly aims to replace the damaged joint with an artificial joint.
Post-treatment the patient is advised to rest for a few days. Activities which harm the health should be completely avoided. It includes smoking, drinking, weight-bearing exercises, etc. braces or casts are used to support the damaged joint.
The possible risks include:
- Heart problems
- Inflammation in aorta
- Bone fractures