What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis (also known as an inflammatory disease) can lead to the fusion of small bones in your spine (vertebrae). The spine becomes less flexible, which can lead to a more upright posture. It can be difficult for you to breathe deeply if your ribs are damaged.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a medical condition that is not curable. However, some treatments can reduce your symptoms and slow down the progression.
Men are more likely to experience ankylosing spondylitis than women. Symptoms usually begin in the early years of adulthood. Other parts of your body can also be affected by inflammation, most often your eyes.
Signs and Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis:
Ankylosing Spondylitis may present as pain in your hips and lower back, particularly in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity. Common symptoms include fatigue and neck pain. The symptoms may worsen over time or improve over time.
Most affected areas from Ankylosing Spondylitis:
The joint between your base and your pelvis
Your lower back vertebrae
The points where your ligaments and tendons attach to the bones. They are usually located in your spine but can also be found at your heel.
The cartilage between your ribs and breastbones
Your shoulder and hip joints
When should you see a doctor?
If you experience low back or buttock pain, especially if it is slowly getting worse with time or waking you up in the middle of the night, you should seek medical attention. If you experience a red, painful, or severe light sensitivity, blurred eye, or blurred vision, consult an eye specialist immediately.
Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Although there is no cause for ankylosing spondylitis, genetic factors may be involved. People with the gene HLA-B27 have an increased chance of developing ankylosing spondylitis. The condition is not common in all people.
Risk factors for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Sexuality. Ankylosing Spondylitis is more common in men than it is in women.
Age. The majority of the time, it occurs in adulthood or late adolescence.
Genetic heritage. The HLA-B27 genetic mutation most commonly causes ankylosing spondylitis. Many people with this gene do not develop ankylosing spondylitis.
As part of the body’s healing process, severe Ankylosing Spondylitis can cause new bone to form. The new bone bridges the space between vertebrae and eventually fuses sections of vertebrae. These parts of your spine will become rigid and inflexible. The fusion can also cause a stiffening of your rib cage, limiting your lung function and capacity.
Other complications could arise:
- Compression fractures. Ankylosing spondylitis can cause bones to become thin, resulting in weakening vertebrae and worsened truncal posture. Vertebral injuries can cause pressure to the spine and nerves.
- Uveitis is one of the most common complications associated with ankylosing spondylitis. It can cause eye pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and rapid-onset eye discomfort. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
- Heart problems. Ankylosing spondylitis can lead to problems with the aorta. An inflamed or enlarged aorta can disrupt the function of the aortic valve.
Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis
The physician may ask you to bend in various directions during a physical exam to check your spine’s range of motion. You might be asked to press on specific areas of your pelvis or move your legs in a particular direction to replicate your pain. To determine if your chest is expanding, your physician may ask you to take deep breaths.
Imaging tests for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Your doctor can check your bones and joints with X-rays. However, you might not see the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis until the very beginning.
An MRI scan uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce more detailed bones and soft tissue images. MRI scans are more costly but can detect ankylosing spondylitis early in the disease process.
Laboratory tests for Ankylosing Spondylitis
A variety of lab tests can diagnose ankylosing spondylitis. Although specific blood tests can detect inflammation markers, inflammation can also be caused by other health issues.
You can have your blood tested for the HLA/B27 gene. However, most people with that gene do not have ankylosing spondylitis. You can also have it without the gene.