Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a progressive form of arthritis affecting the spine joints. It usually develops before age 40 and is twice as likely to occur in men as in women. The cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis is not clearly known, the condition appears to have a strong genetic component.

Ankylosing Spondylitis usually begins with pain and stiffness in the sacroiliac joint cause pain and stiffness in the lower back and in its early stages may be mistaken for other spine-related problems. However, Ankylosing Spondylitis may progress up the spine and into the ribs and neck.

Ankylosing Spondylitis causes the progressive inflammation around the affected joints and as its result the bones to grow together so that the joint can no longer move properly. This can lead to fusion of the vertebras, which causes severe pain and the loss of spinal mobility.

Fusion of the vertebrae in the neck area can result in a stooped posture. AS is a systemic condition, it can affect the entire body, not just the affected joints, and some patients experience fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue in addition to the other symptoms. Fortunately, most people with AS typically experience long periods with little or no symptoms and are able to lead productive lives.

For most patients suffering form Ankylosing Spondylitis, conservative treatment is the first and usually successful step. Conservative care options usually include:

  • Medications – help to relieve the pain and inflammation;
  • Exercises – to strength back and abdominal muscles, and to restore spinal flexibility;
  • Manipulative treatment - helps to relieve the pain and increases spinal mobility;
  • Physiotherapy - helps to relive the pain syndrome and produces activity modification.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the bones of the spine.