Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease of the joints in the back. Although the condition can affect other joints, such as the shoulder, elbows, and hips, the most common site for this painful condition is along the vertebrae in the back. The inflammation of the joints causes extreme pain, and then the stiffening of the back compounds the discomfort.
The joints between each bone of the back become inflamed by a process that is not well understood. To heal this perceived injury, the bones of the back form new bone to replace the damaged tissue. When this bone grows large enough, it can fuse with the vertebra below or above it.
Once the two bones are fused together, the back does not have the flexibility or movement it once did. This causes pain and an unnatural curve to the back.
At BASIC Spine, we want to help you overcome your ankylosing spondylitis. Through consultations with our pain management professionals, we can help you overcome the pain that is so often connected with this condition. To restore flexibility to your back, you can also consult with our surgeons who are at the forefront of spinal surgery. You don’t need to suffer with you condition any longer!
The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis is still a mystery, but researchers know for sure that there is a genetic component. If you test positive for the gene HLA-B27, you could have this condition at some point in your life. Similarly, if you have a family member who has had this condition and know that it runs in your family, you stand a much greater risk of having it.
However, you don’t need to have this gene marker to get ankylosing spondylitis, and some people who have the marker never show any symptoms. More research is necessary to find out the root cause of this condition and help people to overcome it.
Ankylosing spondylitis is one of those diseases that seem to have a different course for different people. For this reason, symptoms can only be generalizations. You may have one, all, or none of these symptoms, and still have ankylosing spondylitis.
The most common early sign of this condition is pain and stiffness in your lower back and in the buttocks. You can have the pain on one side, alternating sides, or both sides at the same time. It tends to be worse in the mornings, and it is a dull, wide-spread pain rather than a sharp, pin-point pain.
Eventually, the pain rises up the spine to cause stiffness in the chest, ribs, neck, and shoulders. In women, the pain starts a bit differently. It usually starts off in the neck.
Fatigue is another common symptom of ankylosing spondylitis, and it is from the constant inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae. Other symptoms include bowel infections that may be mistaken for ulcerative colitis, and you can also have infections of eye.
As the disease progresses, lack of movement in the spine and spinal fusion are seen. The pain becomes worse, and sometimes surgery is the only treatment that can help ease the pain.
Like other back conditions, medications, therapy, and surgery are all treatment modalities to consider. With this condition, posture and hot/cold therapy are also very important. Medications are often given to those with ankylosing spondylitis to help relieve the pain.
Over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen, are sometimes enough to help the inflammation in the joints and provide relief. When these medications do not work, it may be necessary to use a narcotic pain medication to ease the pain. Other anti-rheumatic drugs, such as methotrexate, are often used to decrease inflammation.
Exercise and posture are important to maintain the flexibility of the back and help reduce pain. By working with a therapist at BASIC Spine, we can help you exercise your back safely and keep your vertebrae from fusing together. Focused work with therapy will also help mobilize the inflammatory chemicals in your back and help reduce pain and swelling. In addition, heat and cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and ease the stiffness so often associated with the condition.
Surgery is usually not recommended for ankylosing spondylitis. If you have issues with your hips or your knees, then replacement surgery for those joints is often necessary and easy enough to endure.
However, surgery to correct the curvature of the spine, particularly around the neck, is considered a risky procedure and is only done in rare cases. For this condition, medications and therapy are the best ways to approach it, according to the experts.
If you have ankylosing spondylitis, BASIC Spine can help! We have a dedicated staff of back specialists and pain management professionals that can help you manage your disease.
Come into the office today and discover how BASIC Spine can adjust your back!
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