Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic and painful form of degenerative inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the spine and the joints between the spine and the pelvis. This condition usually leads to the eventual fusion of the spine, making it become completely rigid. This condition may also cause inflammation on other parts of the body such as the joints in the hips, knees and feet as well as on the tendons and ligaments that are attached to the bones.

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis

There is no known specific cause to the condition known as ankylosing spondylitis. Some experts believe that certain genetic factors may be at work in the development of the condition among sufferers.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms

Some of the early symptoms of the condition include stiffness and pain in the lower back and hips which usually worsen early in the morning or in the evenings as well as during some periods of inactivity. After some time, the pain and the stiffness may then spread towards the spine as well as on the other joints such as the hips, shoulders, knees and feet.

Other advanced symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include chronic stooping and a restricted expansion of the chest. The spine becomes more stiff and lose its flexibility over time. Some may begin to experience symptoms such as frequent tiredness, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis may depend on the degree of symptoms exhibited. Mild symptoms can sometimes delay diagnosis in some people since it can also have some similarities to other conditions such as common back problems.

Diagnosis would usually require a physical examination as well as a review of a patient’s medical history. Other tests such as taking X-rays, CT and MRI scan may help determine joint characteristics as well as inflammation and help doctors in diagnosing the condition.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatments

The main treatment for ankylosing spondylitis include managing the pain and stiffness associated with the condition as well as preventing further complications such as spinal deformity. Early treatment is important to avoid irreversible damage that leads to fusion of the spine that may limit movement and normal function. Treatment usually involves a combination of anti-inflammatory medication as well as physical therapy.