What is ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. The disease causes inflammation of the spine and large joints, resulting in stiffness and pain. The disease may result in erosion at the joint between the spine and the hip bone (the sacroiliac joint), and the formation of bony bridges between vertebrae in the spine, fusing those bones. In addition, bones in the chest may fuse. The cause of AS is unknown, although researchers suspect genetics play a role.
What are the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?
The following are the most common symptoms of AS:
- Back pain, usually most severe at night during rest
- Early morning stiffness
- Stooped posture in response to back pain (bending forward tends to relieve the pain)
- Straight and stiff spine
- Inability to take a deep breath, (if the joints between the ribs and spine are affected)
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- joint pain
- Organ damage, such as the heart, lungs, and eyes
Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis:
The goal of treatment for AS is to reduce pain and stiffness, prevent deformities, and maintain as normal and active a lifestyle as possible. Treatment may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (to reduce pain and inflammation)
- Tumor-necrosis-factor blockers (to reduce inflammation and swelling)
- Short-term use of muscle relaxants and pain relievers
- Regular exercise, including exercises that strengthen back muscles