1. What is ankylosing spondylitis?
2. What causes ankylosing spondylitis?
3. What are the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?
4. How does ankylosing spondylitis progress?
5. Is ankylosing spondylitis treatable or curable?
6. What type of doctor treats ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis, which is also known by the names spondylitis and rheumatoid spondylitis, is an inflammatory joint disease of the spine and the sacroiliac, which is found at the junction of the pelvis to the spine. Sometimes, the condition can cause some of the bones of the spine (vertebrae) to fuse together, which can make the spine less flexible.
There is no known, exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis. People born with the HLA-B27 gene are far more likely than others to develop the condition, but this not true in all cases. In terms of risk factors, men are more likely to develop the condition than women. The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis usually appear in early adulthood.
The first symptoms of the disease are:
- back pain and stiffness
- pain or swelling in the buttocks
- neck pain
- pain and redness in the eye
- increased light sensitivity
- blurred vision
It is important to note that in cases of ankylosing spondylitis, the pain felt in the neck, back and buttocks improves with exercise and worsens with rest. Additionally, the pain can be severe enough to wake those who suffer from the condition during the night and will likely be worse in the mornings or after periods of inactivity.
You should visit your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms, even if they are not consistent, as the signs of ankylosing spondylitis can become worse, improve and temporarily stop over time.
As a consequence of the fusion of the spine, patients may experience a loss of mobility and progressive joint deformity, including a hunched posture. This can be increased by compression fractures, caused by the disease's weakening effect on bones.
Additionally, some patients may have an eye inflammation (uveitis). This is the most common complication of ankylosing spondylitis which will require specialist treatment from an ophthalmologist.
Abnormal heart valves and their complications are also associated with ankylosing spondylitis. This happens as a consequence of the aorta becoming inflamed which can lead the aortic chambers to become distorted.
Currently, there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis but a combination of medication and physical therapy can alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.
A specialist rheumatologist treats ankylosing spondylitis. Specialist cardiologists and ophthalmologists treat the condition’s complications.