Ankylosing Spondylitis: Symptoms And Risk Factor

Ankylosing Spondylitis is A Type of Arthritis

It mostly affects the spine, the lower back, and sacroiliac joints. The disease involves the increase in bone formation and erosion off the bone that leads to fusion. The chronic inflammation causes stiffness and pain in and around the spine, including the middle back, lower back, buttocks, and neck. As the disease advances, it leads to spinal deformity.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is A Type of Arthritis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is A Type of Arthritis

Facts on Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Ankylosing spondylitis belongs to a group of arthritis conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the spine.
  • It affects the part of the spine, where the lower part of the spine joins the hip, which is known as the sacroiliac joint.
  • This condition mostly starts from the lower back, then spreads up to the neck, and damages the joints of other body parts.
  • It is considered a type of rheumatic disease. The symptoms in the advance stage involve muscles and joints.
  • This condition affects all age groups, including children.
  • It is more common in males in their twenties.
  • It is mild in females and is hard to diagnose.
  • The tendency to develop this disease is genetically inherited.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, over time, makes the spine less flexible and results in a hunched forward posture.
  • This condition can also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, and occasionally kidneys.
  • As this condition advances, it affects the ribs and makes it difficult to breathe deeply.
  • It is a lifelong condition and is also termed as Bechterew disease.
  • Western medicine has no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. However, pain and inflammation is managed with certain drugs and physical therapies.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis sometimes becomes difficult to diagnose. However, it has a particular pattern of pain and other symptoms. In addition, the changes are seen in x-ray and MRI
  • In children, this disease is termed as juvenile ankylosing spondylitis.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis vary. The characteristic feature is mild to moderate flare-ups of inflammation that alternates with a period of no symptoms. There is a pain in the back in the morning as well as night. The patient experiences pain the large joints such as shoulders and hips.

Other symptoms include:

  • Early morning stiffness
  • Stooped shoulders
  • Poor posture
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Tired
  • Anaemia
  • Low-grade fever parts
  • Reduced lung function

Ankylosing Spondylitis also includes the inflammation of other body parts. This is why the patient may also experience:

  • Mild eye inflammation
  • Inflammation of bowels
  • Heart valves inflammation

What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis has no specific cause. The genetic factor seems to be involved. People having a gene called HLA-B27 are at the greatest risk of developing it. However, not all people with this gene develop this condition.

Risk Factors for Ankylosing Spondylitis

  1. Sex – Men are more likely to develop and ankylosing spondylitis.
  2. Age – This condition usually occurs in early adulthood and early adolescence.
  3. Heredity – If you have a family member suffering from ankylosing spondylitis you are more likely to develop it.

Complications of Ankylosing Spondylitis

As ankylosing spondylitis advances, the body in an attempt to heal itself forms new bones. The new bones bridge the gap between the vertebrae and eventually fuses. The spine becomes less flexible and stiff. The fusion also stiffens the rib cage and affects the function and capacity of the lungs.

Other Complications include:

Uveitis or eye inflammation – The inflammation of eye or uveitis is the most common complication of ankylosing spondylitis. It causes rapid onset of eye pain. Eyes become sensitive to light, and vision is blurred.

Heart problems

Ankylosing spondylitis leads to inflammation of the aorta. Inflamed aorta enlarges to the point that it distorts the shape of the aortic valve and impairs its function. The blood leaks back to the heart. The heart is unable to pump well. As a result, the patient is short of breath and tired.

Compression fractures

During the early stages of the disease, the bones in some people is thin. Weak vertebra crumbles and leads to a stooped posture. Vertebral fractures puts pressure on the spinal cord and possibly injures it and the nerves that pass through the spine.

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Occurs

Ankylosing spondylitis starts with the inflammation due to the activation of the body’s immune system that precedes bacterial infection or a combination of microbial infections. The immune system is activated but is unable to turn off even after the initial bacterial infection subsides. The chronic inflammation that continues because of the activated body immune system in the absence of active infection starts attacking the body’s tissues. This is the hallmark of autoimmune diseases. As a response to inflammation, the body starts producing extra calcium around the bones of the spine for healing. This extra bone grows and results in pain and stiffness in the back and neck. As the disease advances, the bones in the spine fuse together because of extra calcium and, in severe cases, the spine curves.

In case you are suffering from ankylosis spondylitis meet your health care provider and physiotherapist for proper management.

Dr. Ritu Kumari Gupta
Dr. Ritu Kumari Gupta:  Professionally a homeopathic doctor and a dietician Dr. Ritu Kumari Gupta is passionate about writing health and parenting blogs. She believes in holistic approach towards health and well being.