Ankylosing Spondylitis, an arthritis condition affecting the spine, is characterized by stiffness, pain and inflammation starting from the neck down to the lower back. The problem is generally stemmed from vertebrae fusion, which decreases the range of motion and flexibility, which may also lead to difficulty breathing and a hunched-over posture. While a trusted physician referral center such as the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center can help you find a physician for the treatment of arthritis pain in areas surrounding Plano, Texas, it helps to be informed about the condition. Continuing on the subject, we present the types, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options for Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is of two types: Axial Ankylosing Spondylitis — characterized by pain in the lower back; and Peripheral Ankylosing Spondylitis — characterized by pain and swelling in joints except spine.
- Persistent pain and stiffness in the lower back, buttocks and hips for over 3 months.
- Fusion and overgrowth of bones. In some cases, there may be a change in the posture such as stooping due to the changes in vertebrae.
- Pain and stiffness in the ligaments and tendons, especially in the area around the heel such as the Achilles tendon.
- Inflammation of eyes, heart and digestive system. Eye trouble, inflammatory bowel disease and heart trouble is commonly reported.
- Fatigue as a result of disturbed sleep due to pain.
- Mild fever
Nearly half the patients affected by Ankylosing Spondylitis are reported to suffer from osteoporosis or brittle bones due to bone overgrowth on the spinal cord or from fused vertebrae.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a genetic condition. Age, gender, genetic factors and ethnicity contribute to the risk factors. The onset of Ankylosing Spondylitis is commonly observed between teenage and 30s. Men are two to three times more likely to be affected by this condition than women. The gene known as HLA-B27 is commonly found in the people affected with this condition. The native tribes in Canada and the US, such as the Alaskan Eskimos are at a greater risk of getting affected with Ankylosing Spondylitis.
A physician will generally perform an examination to check for back pain caused by inflammation. They may also want to know your family history to find out if someone else in your family may be suffering from it as it is a genetic condition. Following are the signs of back pain caused by inflammation:
- Ongoing back pain from 20s or 30s.
- Persistent back pain for over 3 months.
- Back pain that worsens after resting, back pain that reduces while exercising or moving around.
- A general stiffness or pain that responds well to anti-inflammatory drugs.
After a physical examination, a physician may suggest you to undergo imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI scan, CT scan or a blood test. These tests reveal several important signs such as an extra bone growth or the presence of the HLA-B27 gene.
There are several treatment options for Ankylosing Spondylitis and many new treatment options are still in development. Latest treatment options aim to reduce the damage caused by inflammation to organs such as eyes, heart and more. The following are few commonly practiced treatments:
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen and meloxicam.
- DMARDs (Disease modifying antirheumatic drugs) such as methotrexate and sulfasalazine.
- Biological DMARDs such as Humira, Cimzia and more.
- In cases of extreme inflammation, steroid injections known as corticosteroids are administered in the joints.
- In cases of a curved spine or neck, damaged knees or hips, surgery might be helpful.
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga and TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) are helpful in some cases. Follow such alternative treatments only after seeking your physician’s advice.
Ankylosing Spondylitis has no specific cause and the onset of the condition should not limit a patient’s life in any manner. Following a treatment plan, regularly watching out for signs of inflammation, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, posture and staying active can help in pain management. If you or your loved ones are suffering from persistent back pain, signs of inflammation or from symptoms of arthritis, contact the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center in Plano, Texas. To schedule an appointment with a trusted orthopedic specialist near you, visit our website or simply call (888) 608-476.
NOTE: Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center.