Ankylosing Spondylitis: Vertebrae of the spine are flexible and move smoothly as long as they are healthy with discs in proper shape. Inflammatory conditions of the spine can cause some of these vertebrae to fuse over a period of time. When this happens, there is less flexibility and movement in the spine. Eventually, this condition can lead to a hunched posture.
Inflammation doesn’t remain confined to spinal vertebrae as it may occur in other parts of the body. People may experience signs and symptoms during their early adulthood. Ankylosing spondylitis is more commonly seen in men compare to women.
What are the signs and symptoms of the AS?
Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms: Pain and stiffness in the back and lower portion of the body around the lower back and hip. It is common after periods of inactivity or in the morning. Fatigue and neck pain are the other common symptoms.
The vertebrae in the lower back are most commonly affected. In addition, hip and shoulder joints, the cartilage between the ribs and breast bone; the joint between the spine and the pelvis are also affected.
Symptoms may improve or stop intermittently or might become worse over time.
What causes Ankylosing Spondylitis?
There is no specific cause for AS. This means the cause is mostly unknown (idiopathic). However, genetic predisposition cannot be ruled out. In general, it is seen that people who have the HLA-B27 gene are at increased risk of developing AS. However, it is seen in only some people with this gene who develop this condition.
Who are at risk?
Men are more often at risk than women
The onset of the disease occurs during late adolescence or early adulthood
People with the HLA-B27 gene may develop this condition
Not all people with this gene can develop this condition
What are the complications of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The spine in the lower back becomes painful and stiff due to the fusion of spinal vertebrae of the lower spine. New bones and bone spur may form and bridges the gap between vertebrae resulting in vertebrae fusing together. A stiffening rib cage due to the fusion of bones can restrict lung capacity and function – thus making breathing difficult. The other complications associated with Ankylosing spondylitis may include compression fractures, eye inflammation, and heart problems.
When to see a doctor?
Seek medical help immediately if you develop stiffness and experience pain in the loser spine. You may feel stiffness early in the morning or after taking a rest or period of inactivity. Consult an Orthopedic doctor if the pain in the buttock and lower back come on slowly and become worse in the morning or when you get up after taking a rest. You should also pay attention to the pain that comes in the second half of the night. This type of pain can become worse with rest but improves with exercise. If you develop blurred vision, severe light sensitivity and painful eye, then consult an eye specialist.