Watch For These Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis

The spine is one of the most important aspects of the human body. It provides structure to the musculoskeletal system and helps people with structure and posture.

It connects with the ribs, providing protection to essential organs. It allows nerves to send information from the brain down to the lower body and then back. The spine is absolutely crucial. 

There are many different medical conditions and diseases that can affect the spine. Due to the importance of the spine, even minor medical conditions can be quite troublesome. Ankylosing spondylitis is an arthritic condition that causes inflammation and possible bone fusion in the spine. This condition can be quite debilitating. With no cure available, treatment can only delay the progression of the disease. This makes an early diagnosis that much more important. 

Determining Ankylosing Spondylitis

There are several signs that can indicate someone may be suffering from ankylosing spondylitis from an early time frame. Typically, pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips is the most common sign. People may go to sleep and feel it especially as they wake up. Neck pain can also occur, while still others may also feel a deep fatigue. 

Typically, there are specific areas that are most affected. This usually affects the vertebrae located in the lower section of the back. The joint that connects the spine and the pelvis is also a potential conflict point. Inflammation is very common in the areas of the spine where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone. In some cases, this can also be felt in a person’s heel. Beyond that, sometimes the hips and shoulder joints can sometimes also feel ankylosing spondylitis. Some people also feel inflammation in the cartilage located between ribs and breastbone. 

Any of these signs should trigger a visit to a medical professional. This is especially true in cases where the pain and stiffness is truly bad in the morning, or might even wake you up in the later parts of the night. Typically they will start with physical exams to check range of motion and how the spine reacts. After they complete all of their basic physical tests, it’s likely that x-rays and/or MRI tests can be requested. MRI tests are more effective early in the disease, when symptoms can seem minor, but are also very expensive tests. 

What do Do After Diagnosis

Once a person is diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, there are usually three potential treatments. The first is the use of a variety of medications. These can be prescribed around the symptoms of the condition, but typically are medications good at relieving inflammation, managing pain, and eliminating the stiffness that is common. If initial medications don’t work, then it’s possible that they can be changed by a doctor to better work for each individual. 

The second step will likely involve physical therapy. Since movement is so important, most of the therapy will be designed around retaining as much movement as possible. Strength will be built in the muscles and areas surrounding the affected area. This can ease the amount of stress on the bones. What’s more, there is also therapy and exercises designed around day to day activity. It can ease stress on the spine. Learning to sleep in specific shapes can help minimize the pain and stiffness caused during sleep.

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