Ankylosing Spondylitis

In ankylosing spondylitis, chronic joint inflammation particularly affects the sacroiliac joints at the back of the pelvis and the vertebrae. If the spine is severely diseased, new bone starts to grow between the vertebrae, which eventually fuse together.

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What are the causes?
The cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown, but about 9 in 10 people with the condition have a particular antigen called hla-b27 on the surface of most cells. This antigen is inherited, which helps explain why ankylosing spondylitis runs in families. Most people with hla-b27 do not develop the condition, and a bacterial infection is thought to trigger ankylosing spondylitis in those who are predisposed.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis usually appear in late adolescence or early adulthood and develop gradually over a period of months or even years. Men are usually more severely affected. the main symptoms include:

· Lower back pain, which may spread down into the buttocks and thighs.
· Lower back stiffness that may be worse in the morning and improves with exercise.
· Pain in other joints, such as the hips, knees, and shoulders.
· Pain and tenderness in the heels.
· Fatigue, weight loss, and mild fever.

If left untreated, ankylosing spondylitis can distort the spine, resulting in a stooped posture. if the joints between the spine and the ribs are affected, expansion of the chest becomes restricted. in some people, ankylosing spondylitis causes inflammation or damage to the tissues in the areas other than the joints, such as the eyes.

How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor may suspect that you have ankylosing spondylitis from your symptoms. he or she will perform a physical examination and may arrange for an x-ray to look for evidence of fusion in the joints of the pelvis and the spine. Your doctor may also arrange for you to have blood tests to measure the level of inflammation and look for the hla-b27 antigen.

What is the treatment?
Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis is aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing spinal deformity. Your doctor may prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to control pain and inflammation. he or she may also refer you for physical therapy, which may include breathing exercises and daily exercises to help improve posture, strengthen muscles, and prevent deformities of the spine. You may also benefit from regular, gentle physical activity, such as swimming which may help relieve pain and stiffness. If a joint such as a hip is affected, you may eventually need to have it replaced surgically. If your mobility becomes severely reduced, you may need occupational therapy and that therapist may suggest that you use specially designed equipment and furniture to help make your life easier.

What is the prognosis?
Although the condition is not curable, most people with ankylosing spondylitis are only mildly affected, causing minimum disruption of their everyday lives. Even in those people with more severe symptoms, the condition tends to become less severe with age.In many cases, early treatment and regular exercise help relieve pain and stiffness of the back and prevent deformity of the spine. However, about 1 in 20 people with ankylosing spondylitis eventually becomes disabled and has difficulty in carrying out many routine activities.

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Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.


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