Ankylosing Spondylytis is basically an inflammatory disease which can cause some vertebrae in spine to fuse together. This process of fusing eventually makes the spine less flexible & can as a result make the patient end up in a hunched-forward posture. Moreover, when ribs are also affected in ankylosing spondylitis, it may become difficult for the patient to breathe deeply. Ankylosing spondylitis is found to affect men more than it affects women. Typically, signs & symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis begin quite early in adulthood. This type of inflammation can also occur in other parts of the body, especially the eyes. However, there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but treatments can generally decrease pain & lessen severity of symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Early signs & symptoms associated with ankylosing spondylitis generally include pain & stiffness within hips & lower back region, especially in the mornings & after extended periods of inactivity. Moreover, these symptoms may worsen over time, or improve or completely stop at regular intervals. Areas which are most commonly affected by ankylosing spondylitis include the following areas.
- Joints in-between the base of spine & the pelvis
- Vertebrae which are located in the lower back region
- Places where tendons & ligaments attach to bones, mainly within spine, or sometimes along the back of the heel
- Cartilage within ribs & breastbone
- In shoulders & hip joints
Right Time to Seek Medical Help for Ankylosing Spondylitis
People must seek medical attention in case they are having buttock or lower back pain which came very slowly. This pain is usually worse in the morning or awakens patients from sleep in the second half of the night. Pain from ankylosing spondylisis particularly improves with exercise & worsens during rest. Ankylosing spondylitis patients must also immediately see an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) in case they develop blurred vision, severe light sensitivity or a painful red eye.
Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis
As of now, ankylosing spondylitis has no specific known causes, even though genetic factors definitely seem to be involved. It particularly occurs among those people having a gene known as HLA-B27. People with this gene are significantly at increased risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis.
Risk Factors Associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Sex – It is noticed that men are more likely of developing ankylosing spondylitis than are women.
- Age – Onset of ankylosing spondylitis generally occurs during late adolescence or in early adulthood.
- Heredity – Most people having ankylosing spondylytis are also found to have HLA-B27 gene. However, many people who are also having this gene never ever develop ankylosing spondylitis.
Complications Associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis
New bones are found to form as part of the body’s attempt to heal in severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis. Gradually, this new bone attempts to fill gap between vertebrae & which eventually fuses together the affected sections of vertebrae. Following which these parts of the spine become stiff & inflexible. Quite often, this fusion can also stiffen the rib cage & subsequently restrict lung capacity & function.
Other complications associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis include the following.
- Uveitis or Eye Inflammation – This is one of the most common complications associated with ankylosing spondylitis. Uvelitis can cause rapid onset of eye pain, blurred vision & sensitivity to light. Therefore, such patients must immediately see doctors in case they develop these symptoms.
- Compression Fractures – Quite a few people experience thinning of bones during ankylosing spondylitis. Vertebrae which have weakened may crumble & subsequently increase severity of stooped posture of the patient. Vertebral fractures may also sometimes damage spinal cord & nerves & which are passing through the spine.
- Heart Problems – Ankylosing spondylitis can also cause problems which are associated with the aorta. Aorta is the largest artery within the human body. Moreover, inflamed aorta can often also enlarge to the point where it distorts the shape of aortic valve within heart & impair its functioning.
Preparing for Ankylosing Spondylitis Initial Appointment
Most patients first discuss these symptoms with their family doctor. Family doctors most often refer these patients to a specialist doctor in inflammatory disorders, which is usually a rheumatologist.
- Ankylosing Spondylitis Patients Can Do the Following While Preparing for Initial Appointment – Prior to the initial appointment, it would be sensible on part of the patient to write a list of answers to the following questions.
- When did you first begin experiencing these symptoms?
- Where exactly is the pain occurring?
- Are these symptoms worse in the morning or after extended periods of inactivity?
- Which medications & supplements are you presently taking on a regular basis?
- What Can Patients Expect From Doctors During Initial Appointment – Doctors are most likely to ask the following questions during initial appointment.
- How severe are the symptoms you are experiencing?
- Have these symptoms been occasional or continuous?
- What, if anything, is able to improve or worsen the symptoms?
- Are you taking medications to remove pain? Which medication has been able to help the best?
Tests & Diagnosis for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Doctors may ask patients to bend their backs in different directions during physical examinations. They may also measure the chest circumference twice; once with the lungs empty & again when they are full of air. This will enable the doctors to conveniently compare the difference. Doctors may also try to regenerate the pain by pressing upon specific portions of pelvis by moving legs in a particular position. They may also ask patients to stand upright, with their back of the head & heels against a wall.
- Imaging Tests – X-rays generally allow doctors to check for changes within joints & bones, although visible signs & symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis is not generally evident during the early stages of the disease. MRI or magnetic resonance imaging utilizes radio waves along with a strong magnetic field which can provide more detailed images of soft tissues & bones. Although expensive, MRI scan imaging tests can reveal evidence of ankylosing spondylitis quite early in the disease process, they are generally quite expensive.
- Laboratory Tests – However, there are no specific laboratory tests to identify if a person is having ankylosing spondylitis. Nevertheless, certain blood tests can effectively check for markers of inflammation, even though inflammation can be caused by many other different health problems. Although blood can be tested for HLA-B27 gene, most people having this gene are found not to be having ankylosing spondylitis.
Treatment Options for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Goal of ankylosing spondylitis treatment is to relieve stiffness & pain & to delay or prevent complications including spinal deformity. Moreover, ankylosing spondylitis treatments are most successful before this disease can cause irreversible damage to joints.
Treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis Patients
NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like indomethacin (Indocin) & naproxen (Naprosyn) are medications which doctors most commonly prescribe for treating ankylosing spondylitis. These medications can effectively relieve inflammation, stiffness & pain. However, one needs to be careful as these medications can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. In case NSAIDs are unable to help, doctors most often suggest TNF or Tumor Necrosis Factor blockers. TNF basically is a cell protein which acts as an inflammatory agent in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. TNF blockers are designed to target this very protein so as to help reduce stiffness, tenderness, pain & swelling in joints. These are typically administered by injecting medications under skin (subcutaneous) or through an IV line. Good examples of TNF blockers include the following.
- Infliximab – (Remicade)
- Golimumab – (Simponi)
- Etanercept (Enbrel)
- Adalimumab (Humira)
TNF blockers can however sometimes reactivate latent tuberculosis in people & thereby cause certain neurological problems.
Physical therapy can effectively provide numerable benefits from pain relief to flexibility & improved physical strength. For this reason doctors commonly recommend that ankylosing spondylitis patients meet physical therapists so that they can guide patients with specific exercises designed for their specific needs. Stretching & range-of-motion exercises will often be helpful in maintaining flexibility of joints while preserving good posture at the same time. Moreover, proper sleep, walking positions & abdominal & back exercises can also help maintain upright posture.
Most people with ankylosing spondylitis however do not require surgery. Doctors may recommend surgery only in cases where the patient is having severe pain, joint damage, or when the hip joint is so damaged that replacement is the only option.
- Lifestyle & Home Remedies
Ankylosing spondylitis patients who smoke must quit smoking. Generally, smoking is bad for health, but it creates many additional problems for people suffering from this arthritic condition. Ankylosing spondylitis can affect the mobility of rib cage depending upon the severity of this condition. Damaging lungs by smoking will further compromise the patient’s ability to breathe.
Coping & Support for Ankylosing Spondylitis Patients
Course of a ankylosing spondylitis patient may change over time & they may also experience remissions & relapses throughout their life. However, most people are able to live productive lives despite being diagnosed by ankylosing spondylitis. In order to share experiences & derive support, it would be most ideal that ankylosing spondylitis patients join online platforms or in-person support groups of patients with this condition.
Affordable Treatments for Arthritis in India
Over the past few decades India has gained a global reputation as a leading medical tourism destination providing high quality yet low cost medical procedures including orthopedic treatments for arthritis & associated ailments. Featuring a large pool of orthopedic doctors & surgeons, procedures available in India effectively cover the entire range of bone & joint ailments for people of all ages. Many hospitals providing orthopedic specialties are either nationally or internationally accredited healthcare institutions who strictly adhere to the standard of norms that have been laid down by the boards. Moreover, they are managed highly skilled English speaking nurses & professional staff so as to provide a good level of comfort to the international patients seeking solutions to their medical problems.
Low Cost Treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis with Orthopaedic Surgery India
Orthopaedic Surgery India is one of the fastest growing specialist medical tourism companies which are based in South Asia. Orthpaedic Surgery India in association with the best doctors & multispecialty hospitals is ideally place to give the best possible deals to people seeing medical solutions beyond their homeland. Highly reputed among international patients seeking affordable medical procedures to their bone & joint problems, Orthopaedic Surgery India provides a seamless range of hassle-free services which begin with the first telephonic conversation with the patient & go on to identifying the best available surgeon & hospital facility for treatment. Other vital services offered by Orthopaedic Surgery India include assisting in obtaining medical visas, warm reception on arrival for treatments at airports, arranging convenient local travel & comfortable accommodation options as per the patient’s budget, scheduling treatment procedures without any waiting period, follow-up evaluation checks & an affectionate farewell at airports when patients head back home.