Contents in this article
What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms Causes & Treatment. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. The condition causes inflammation in the joints, leading to pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips. In advanced cases, the inflammation can cause the vertebrae to fuse together, resulting in a rigid spine. Symptoms typically begin in early adulthood and the condition can also cause inflammation in other areas of the body such as the eyes, lungs and heart. Treatment typically includes physical therapy, pain management, and medications to reduce inflammation.
Types Of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of spondylitis that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. It is considered a type of inflammatory arthritis and it is the most common form of spondylitis. There are several subtypes of ankylosing spondylitis which include:
- Radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis (Radiographic AxSpA) : AxSpA that has visible bony changes in x-ray.
- Non-Radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis (Non-Radiographic axSpA) : AxSpA that does not have visible bony changes in x-ray but still have inflammatory back pain, stiffness and other symptoms.
- Early Onset Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis that begins before the age of 45.
- Male Predominant Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis that occurs more frequently in men.
- Familial Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis that runs in families, and it is often associated with certain genetic markers.
It’s important to note that the classification of subtypes of ankylosing spondylitis may change over time, as research continues to advance and new information is discovered.
Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
- Genetics: Ankylosing spondylitis is more common in people who have certain genetic markers, particularly the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B27 gene. However, not everyone with the HLA-B27 gene will develop ankylosing spondylitis, and many people with the condition do not have the gene.
- Environment: It is believed that certain environmental factors may trigger the onset of ankylosing spondylitis in people who have the HLA-B27 gene. These factors may include infections, trauma, or other types of inflammation.
- Immune system: Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. In this case, the immune system attacks the joints and other parts of the body, leading to inflammation and pain.
It’s worth noting that researchers are still investigating the exact causes of the disease, and more research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms that lead to the development of ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms Of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can vary from person to person, but they typically include:
- Back Pain And Stiffness: This is the most common symptom and it is usually worse in the morning or after sitting or standing for long periods. The pain and stiffness may improve with activity.
- Inflammation Of The Sacroiliac Joints: This can cause pain in the lower back, hips and buttocks.
- Limited Mobility In The Spine: As the condition progresses, the inflammation can cause the vertebrae to fuse together, resulting in a rigid spine. This can make it difficult to bend or twist the spine.
- Fatigue: Inflammation in the body can cause fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell.
- Extra-Articular Manifestations: Some people with ankylosing spondylitis may develop inflammation in other areas of the body such as the eyes, lungs, heart, and skin. Symptoms can include red and painful eyes, chest pain, shortness of breath, and skin rashes.
- Other Symptoms: Some people with ankylosing spondylitis may also experience a fever, weight loss, or loss of appetite.
It’s important to note that symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can vary widely, and some people may have symptoms that are not listed here. Also, the symptoms can come and go, or be mild or severe, and they may appear before or after the onset of the back pain.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment
Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis typically includes a combination of approaches, including:
Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) such as methotrexate and sulfasalazine can also be used to slow the progression of the disease. Biologics, such as TNF inhibitors or IL-17 inhibitors, can also be used to target specific molecules that drive the inflammation.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help improve flexibility, strength, and posture. exercises to improve the range of motion, and core stability.
Assistive Devices: such as canes or braces can be used to help support the spine and reduce pain.
Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct spinal deformities or to fuse the spine.
Supportive Care: People with ankylosing spondylitis may also need to make lifestyle changes to help manage the condition, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep.
It is important to consult with a rheumatologist or a specialist in ankylosing spondylitis for personalized treatment recommendations. The treatment plan should be regularly reviewed and adjusted as needed, depending on the symptoms and the stage of the disease.
Medications For Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Medications used to treat ankylosing spondylitis include:
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS): These medications can slow the progression of the disease by altering the immune response. Common DMARDS used to treat ankylosing spondylitis include methotrexate and sulfasalazine.
Biologics: These are a newer class of medications that target specific molecules that drive the inflammation. TNF inhibitors (such as adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab) are the most commonly used biologics for ankylosing spondylitis. Other biologics like IL-17 inhibitors (secukinumab, ixekizumab, brodalumab) have been found to be effective as well.
Steroids: Corticosteroids such as prednisone may be used in the short term to help control inflammation, but they are not typically used as long-term treatment because of the potential side effects.
Pain Medications: such as acetaminophen and opioids may be used to help manage pain.
It’s important to note that the type and dosage of medication will depend on the individual case, and the treatment plan should be regularly reviewed and adjusted as needed, depending on the symptoms and the stage of the disease. It’s always best to consult with a rheumatologist or a specialist in ankylosing spondylitis for personalized treatment recommendations.
Physical therapy can be an important part of the treatment plan for ankylosing spondylitis. The goal of physical therapy is to help improve flexibility, strength, and posture, and to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
Physical Therapy For Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Physical therapy for Ankylosing spondylitis typically includes:
- Stretching Exercises: These can help improve flexibility and range of motion in the spine and other joints.
- Strengthening Exercises: These can help improve muscle strength and support the spine.
- Posture Training: This can help improve posture and alignment of the spine, which can help reduce pain and prevent deformities.
- Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling, or swimming can help improve cardiovascular fitness and overall health.
- Education: Physical therapists can provide education about the disease, pain management techniques, and how to perform exercises safely and effectively.
Physical therapy should be tailored to the individual’s needs and goals, and the treatment plan should be reviewed and adjusted as needed. Physical therapy should be coordinated with other treatments, such as medication and assistive devices, to achieve the best possible outcomes. It’s always best to work with a physical therapist who has experience working with people with ankylosing spondylitis.
Home Remedies For Ankylosing Spondylitis?
There are several home remedies that may help manage the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, including:
Heat Therapy: Heat therapy can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints. This can be done by taking a warm bath or shower, using a heating pad, or using a hot water bottle.
Cold Therapy: Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and pain. This can be done by using a cold pack or an ice pack.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve flexibility, strength, and posture, and can also help reduce pain and stiffness.
Good Posture: Maintaining good posture can help reduce pain and prevent deformities in the spine.
Relaxation Techniques: Stress can worsen symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, so it’s important to find ways to relax and reduce stress. This can be done through meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help support overall health and reduce inflammation.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for overall health and can help reduce fatigue and pain.
Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India and is based on the belief that good health depends on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
Ayurvedic Treatment For Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ayurvedic treatment for ankylosing spondylitis may include:
- Herbal Remedies: Ayurvedic practitioners may recommend herbal remedies such as turmeric, ginger, and ashwagandha to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Panchakarma: This is a purification therapy that aims to cleanse the body of toxins. Panchakarma treatments may include massage, steam therapy, and enemas.
- Yoga and Meditation: Yoga and meditation may be used to improve flexibility, strength, and posture, and to reduce stress.
- Diet And Lifestyle Changes: Ayurvedic practitioners may recommend changes to diet and lifestyle to help manage symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.