Common Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis You Should Know About

Back pain is common, and most people don’t worry when they feel the signs of lower back pain coming on. While inconvenient, the pain usually passes and it’s often possible to figure out why it started in the first place.

Lifting something that’s too heavy, sleeping in an awkward position, or suffering from an injury are all common reasons for back pain.

What causes concern is when back pain keeps returning and there’s no obvious reason for it. Chronic flare-ups may be a sign of something more serious than just a strained muscle. For some, it’s a sign of ankylosing spondylitis.

The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are easy to mistake for symptoms of other conditions, and that’s why it’s important to know as much as possible about this condition. Receiving treatment early may help those who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis find treatments that alleviate pain and help them function daily.

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing Spondylitis, also known simply as AS, is considered an inflammatory disease. It affects the spine and can also affect other parts of the body, including the ribs. The inflammation in the spine causes pain and can even lead to ankylosis. Ankylosis occurs when vertebrae start to fuse together, and the spine is no longer as flexible as it should be. This often leads to a noticeable change in appearance since those who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis hunch over to accommodate the spinal changes.

When ribs are affected, breathing may become difficult for the person suffering from this condition. Inflammation in the eyes is also possible, though there’s no way to know whether the condition will expand to affect more than the spine.

Men are more likely to develop this condition than women, and symptoms usually show up when a person is a teen or in their twenties.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

AS is more than just back pain. The length and timing of symptoms differentiate this condition from others back problems, and the pain is usually in the lower spine. Those with AS have back pain that is chronic, meaning it lasts for months. The pain is usually worse when physical activity is not taking place, and exercise may alleviate symptoms. Exhaustion is also a common symptom of AS.

If taking a medication that helps with inflammation alleviates back pain, this could be a sign that AS is the cause since AS is an inflammatory condition. The age of onset tends to cause suspicious as well since many people are considered young when they start having symptoms. Pain from the normal wear and tear of age isn’t as likely when back aches start early, and AS may be the culprit.

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Genetics play a role in who suffers from this disease. There is a common gene that is found in many people who are diagnosed, suggesting the condition can be inherited. However, having the gene doesn’t mean someone will develop the condition. There are many genes that have been identified as markers for AS.

Besides an increased risk due to genetics, there is no known reason why some people suffer from ankylosing spondylitis while others do not. Being Caucasian and male seems to be a factor since more Caucasian males suffer from AS than other genders or ethnicities. Since AS works like a form of spinal arthritis, it’s not related to spinal injuries. It can be hard to pinpoint why it starts because there’s no event that brings on the back pain.

Treatment Options

There’s no current cure for AS, but symptom management is possible. From natural approaches to medical treatments, these are considered the best options for dealing with the symptoms of AS.

Exercise

Exercise is important when it comes to dealing with AS. Those who have AS may find their symptoms are worse after they have been inactive, and regular activity can help decrease pain.

Good Posture

The goal is to keep vertebrae from fusing together and keeping good posture can help accomplish this. Certain chairs are made to help with posture, and it’s important to be conscious of posture always since slouching may increase the chance of fusing.

Massage and Acupuncture

Massage and acupuncture can help with pain management, and massage also helps with movement. Those suffering with AS need to let anyone working on them know they have the condition so extra care can be taken.

Medication

Depending on the severity of pain, different medications can be bought over-the-counter or prescribed. Doctors will start with anti-inflammatory drugs and progress to stronger medications depending on the patient’s situation. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are options.

Surgery

Surgery may be required in severe situations where bone fusion has taken place.

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