All about ankylosing spondylitis

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Ankylosing spondylitis affects people of all ages. Symptoms often begin in the second or third decade of life.
ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a persistent spine and sacroiliac joint disease.
Chronic inflammation causes pain and stiffness in the spine. Chronic inflammation of the spine (spondylitis) can cause full fusing of the vertebrae (ankylosis). Ankylosis causes spinal immobility.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a rheumatic illness that affects muscles and joints.
Ankylosing spondylitis affects men two to three times more than women.
Women are more likely than males to be impacted by non-spinal joints. Ankylosing spondylitis affects people of all ages. Symptoms often begin in the second or third decade of life.

What Are the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?

AS is most commonly associated with the sacroiliac joints, which are the joints that link your spine to your pelvic. It can have an impact on the areas where your tendons and ligaments link to your bones, among other things. Additionally, your vertebrae may fuse together as a result of this condition.

You can be experiencing discomfort or stiffness in your:

  • Lower back
  • Buttocks
  • Shoulders
  • Hands
  • Rib cage
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Feet
  • Heels

You could notice anything like this:

  • Inflammation that is more severe in the morning or after sitting for a lengthy period of time
  • A spine that is stiff and bends forward
  • Tiredness
  • Joint swelling is a common occurrence.
  • Having difficulty taking deep breaths

Symptoms might vary from one individual to another. It is also possible that your condition will change more quickly or more slowly than someone else’s.

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis Risk Factors

Certain factors beyond your control may increase your chance of developing AS:

Sex:  Men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with AS, and the disease attacks them earlier and more severely. Women are more likely than males to suffer from a milder type of AS known as non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.

Age: AS is most commonly diagnosed in adolescence or early adulthood. Approximately 80 percent of instances begin before the person reaches the age of 30 and 95 percent by the age of 45.

Treatment

There are a variety of therapies that can help to slow it down as well as cure pain and stiffness. Exercise and paying close attention to your posture are equally vital in order to maintain your spine flexibility and to enable you to lead a normal life after a spinal fusion.

The following medications are only available through a rheumatology consultant’s prescription.

Biological treatments

Biological therapies are emerging medicines that can help some patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

These medications target inflammation differently than previous DMARDs.

They aren’t for everyone and can only be recommended if anti-inflammatory medicines and physiotherapy don’t work.

Anti-TNF medicines are a class of biological treatments. Ankylosing spondylitis can be treated by:

  • etanercept
  • adalimumab
  • certolizumab pegol
  • golimumab.

A different biological medication, secukinumab, can cure ankylosing spondylitis. It’s an IL-17 inhibitor, a new class of biological therapies. It also works by lowering inflammation.

A spouse, family, or friend can learn to inject these medications. The effect of biological treatments will be tracked, and you will be asked to complete frequent surveys to assess your response.

 

Pain relievers. 

NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) are frequently used to treat unpleasant AS symptoms. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another option.

Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). Several inflammatory and/or autoimmune illnesses, including AS, are treated with this family of drugs. AS is treated with methotrexate and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine).

 

Biologics. 

These are DMARDs made from live cells. Biologics for AS are given by infusion or self-injection at a medical institution. adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), secukinumab (Cosentyx), and ixekizumab (Taltz).

 

Exercise.

If you have AS, physical treatment and exercise are vital. Gentle stretching and exercise can help ease back and neck tightness while also keeping you flexible. Your PT can recommend a home stretching and exercise regimen and teach you optimal posture. Bonus: Exercise might improve your cardiovascular health and mood.

Surgery.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of people with AS can be treated successfully without surgery, surgery for ankylosing spondylitis may be required in some cases. According to your symptoms, age, general health, and individual scenario, among other considerations, a surgeon will assist you in determining what type of operation you require.

Spinal instrumentation and fusion.

AS patients have a greater risk of spinal fracture than non-AS patients. “Most of the time, these fractures are not stable and pose a hazard to the spinal cord,” explains Dr. Ermann.
Your surgeon may employ instrumentation (wires, screws, rods, bars, or cages) to fuse broken or osteotomized spine bones. This stabilizes the spine and protects the spinal cord.