Ankylosing spondylitis treatment
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What is ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of axial spondyloarthritis that causes damage to the spine visible on an X-ray. The causes of the condition are unknown, but scientists believe there are genetic factors that predispose some people to the disease. Ankylosing spondylitis affects more men than women and commonly appears between the ages of 17 and 45.
If left untreated, ankylosing spondylitis can cause the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together over time, resulting in less flexibility and a hunched forward posture. As the disease progresses, the sacroiliac joints are almost always affected. These are the joints between the spine and the pelvis. The disease is chronic, although with varying severity, and features periods of flares and remission.
Symptoms and causes
The pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis most commonly occurs in the sacroiliac joints, where the spine connects to the pelvis, so patients feel pain in the lower back, hips, and buttocks area. Patients can also feel stiffness, especially in the morning. Pain typically comes on gradually over a period of time. Patients may also experience a low-grade fever and loss of appetite as well as fatigue and anemia.
Other areas of the body may also be affected, including pain in other joints, bowel inflammation and eye inflammation. In fact, around one-third of patients with ankylosing spondylitis experience eye inflammation. Symptoms are red, watery or painful eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to light.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition, and its severity varies greatly by a patient. Those with a family history of the condition or with frequent gastrointestinal issues are considered more at risk for developing the disease. Treatments for ankylosing spondylitis include medication, physical therapy, exercise, the use of hot and cold compresses, and surgery for the most severe cases.
Recommended medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, corticosteroids, biologics and other stronger drugs. Eating a healthy diet, especially getting enough calcium and vitamin D, is recommended to help manage symptoms. Regular exercise, with a focus on stretching, may also relieve the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. The most common surgical procedure is a hip replacement.