Everything one must know about ankylosing spondylitis

Everything one must know about ankylosing spondylitis

Among the many types of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis is a rare one that affects the spine. Ankylosis refers to “fusing” and spondylitis is associated with inflammation of the vertebrae. This chronic condition and typically starts at the lower back before spreading to the neck and other joints in the body. There is, unfortunately, no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but it is feasible to ease the pain and strengthen the back with exercise and medication.

Causes
Ankylosing spondylitis is particularly tied in with the HLA-B27 gene. Carriers of this gene are most likely to develop the condition. And they are at a much higher risk than those without the gene. However, one mention worth noting is that many people with the gene may never develop ankylosing spondylitis. Men are more predisposed to develop this condition compared to women.

Symptoms and complications
The onset of symptoms generally is in late adolescence or early adulthood, appearing between 17 and 45. Some individuals who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis experience mild symptoms, and for some, the pain is persistent and the symptoms appear in the forms of flare-ups and remissions.

Lower back pain is one of the first signs of ankylosing spondylitis and is usually associated with stiffness. Joint pain, especially in the hips, is common in such individuals; neck pain follows closely. Some symptoms are not directly linked to the spine. Ankylosing spondylitis can also manifest with breathing difficulties, eye pain, rashes, and abdominal discomfort. One may also possibly experience fatigue, loss of appetite, and unexplained weight loss.

If others in the patient’s family have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis must be cautious. Comorbidities like ulcerative colitis, Psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease increase the risk of ankylosing spondylitis, so one must be aware of the symptoms mentioned above.

Anklysoling spondylitis primarily affects the spine, and there is often inflammation in the pelvis, hips, knees, and shoulders. Spinal fractures are also more common complications, along with fusing of the vertebra. Forward curvature of the spine and osteoporosis are very common as well. Uveitis, photophobia, and jaw inflammation are all common, along with Cauda equina syndrome, inflammation, and scarring of nerves. Heart-related conditions like aortitis, arrhythmia, and cardiomyopathy are also common complications of ankylosing spondylitis.

Treatment
The primary goal of ankylosing spondylitis treatment is to relieve pain, stiffness and prevent complications and spine deformity. Ibuprofen and naproxen medications ease inflammation, pain, and stiffness, and one can take them orally. Doctors also prescribe intravenous medications like tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers or interleukin-17 (IL-17) inhibitors in later stages.

Patients almost always undergo physical therapy as a prescription treatment for ankylosing spondylitis. It is aimed at pain relief, improving flexibility, and strengthening the back. Preserving posture is key to improving the quality of life of patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Range of motion, mobility activities, and workouts that strengthen the abdomen and back are essential. Gentle exercises like Pilates, Tai chi, and Yoga are excellent. In severe conditions, surgery for replacing joints, especially the hip, can reduce pain.

Nutrition
Special meal plans can help alleviate symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. Food with omega-3 fatty acids are critical; flax seeds, soybean, canola oil, salmon, and kale help reduce inflammation. Vegetables and fruits are abundant in essential nutrients and have very few calories. These foods help one stay strong and, when combined with whole grains that are full of fiber, can help decrease inflammation in ankylosing spondylitis patients. Supplements can also provide a boost of nutrients, but one must speak to a doctor before taking them. The Arthritis Foundation also recommends a one-month elimination period to identify triggers foods that exacerbate symptoms.

Ankylosing spondylitis patients must avoid sugar, sodium, and fat at all costs. Highly processed foods have all three, along with trans fats and preservatives. It is public knowledge that highly processed foods cause inflammation. A good rule of thumb is to abstain from foods in boxes, bags, cans, and packets. Read labels and avoid meals with ingredients you cannot recognize.

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