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Prone to Frequent Lower Back Pain? 7 Things to Know About Ankylosing Spondylitis

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Ankylosing spondylitis is a rheumatic illness associated with inflammation of the lower back region. The condition often spreads to the ribs, causing breathing discomfort besides risking hunchback posture in the advanced stages of the illness. 

Ankylosing spondylitis causes severe disability as vertebral bones fuse around the hip. Individuals experiencing unexplained hip pain (early stage) should visit a rheumatologist and get diagnosed with their underlying condition, ensuring whether having this rare illness (2-5 cases/100,000). 

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis, also known as Bechterew disease, is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation (similar to arthritis) around the sacroiliac joints connecting the spine with the pelvis.

Most patients report sacroiliitis (sacral vertebrae trauma) among the early ankylosing spondylitis signs.

Most ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients have a history of lower back pain.

Are you among those with poor immunity? You might be prone to this rheumatic disorder. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) has no permanent cure at present.

However, patients with this condition lead a natural lifestyle through early detection and preventive treatment to ease painful symptoms. 

Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms: Recognise the signs

Ankylosing spondylitis signs include prolonged and unexplained lower back discomfort. You may feel it frequently in the morning or change posture after a long time, including back stiffness and pain around the neck.

Here are some of the potential symptoms:

  • Unexplained low back pain
  • Experiencing muscle stiffness and fatigue
  • Inflammation at the junction of the tailbone (sacroiliac joint)
  • Sharp pain at vertebral bone joints (rising from below towards the neck)
  • Pain in the ribs leading to discomfort while breathing
  • Recurrent back ache after little or mild exercise
  • Frequent bowel problems (IBS is a side effect)

Ankylosing spondylitis types: Know your condition

Although a rare bone condition, ankylosis spondylitis is an advanced category under axial spondylarthritis (ax Spa). Rheumatologists call this condition radiographic axial spondylarthritis (ax Spa).

It has the name from the imagery diagnosis report, where affected spinal bones get fused, as observed during an MRI or spinal X-ray. 

Ankylosing spondylitis treatment: Potential methods

Rheumatologists treat ankylosis spondylitis patients using a combination of the following therapeutics. It includes:

Drug therapy

Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs, TNF blockers through oral and parenteral routes) provide considerable relief from recurrent pain. These drugs reduce inflammation and contain the muscle stiffness associated with ankylosing spondylitis.

It prevents further skeletal damage from a potential fall frequent in patients with a deteriorating bone structure.

Doctors may also prescribe calcium medication and multivitamins to compensate for rapid demineralisation preventing osteoporosis. 

Physiotherapy

Posture therapy helps you cope with mechanical disability and overall discomfort to lead a natural lifestyle. It infuses ankylosing spondylitis patients to perform daily activities without fearing the risk of injury.

Besides, posture correction and dedicated exercises keep you in shape while strengthening core muscles to counter skeletal weakness. 

Surgery

Some patients with ankylosing spondylitis develop hip complications.

Your rheumatologist/orthopedic surgeon may suggest surgery to prevent further deterioration of the underlying condition. 

Ankylosis spondylitis: Know its underlying reason

Rheumatologists are yet to offer a permanent prognosis of ankylosing spondylitis. Here are the following reasons that trigger this autoimmune condition:

  • Presence of an HLA-B27 gene (most prevalent in Caucasian folks)
  • Intestinal infection (Klebsiella bacteria)
  • Poor immunity
  • Chronic lower abdominal problems
  • History of mechanical disability

Ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis: Methods of detection

If you have potential signs of chronic back pain, visit a rheumatologist for a detailed checkup. Bone specialists use the following methods for ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis:

  • Imagery analysis (CT scan, MRI, and X-ray to develop a clinical understanding of the underlying issue)
  • Performing blood tests to detect an HLA-B27 gene (precursor)
  • Detailed physical examination to verify the symptoms other than a backache/incorrect posture

How can you prevent developing ankylosis spondylitis?

Ankylosis spondylitis prevention is not possible since it’s an autoimmune disorder. Individuals having the HLA-B27 gene are susceptible to developing it between 20 to 40 years of age.

Potential couples can avail of complete genetic screening to prevent their future offspring from inheriting such a rare illness. 

Which doctor is perfect for treating your ankylosis spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune rheumatic illness. Patients showing potential symptoms complain of physical discomfort prevailing around the skeletal system.

If you have a history of lower back pain, visit a physician to get diagnosed with underlying health anomalies. 

If you show ankylosing spondylitis signs, meet a rheumatologist (bone specialist) for further treatment. For surgical intervention, a spinal surgeon will cater for your condition. 

Conclusion

A rare rheumatic condition, hardly a quarter of individuals having the HLA-B27 gene report ankylosing spondylitis. Also, patients having poor immunity may develop this condition in their early 20s.

While a permanent cure is not yet available, rheumatologists recommend a cautious lifestyle to prevent potential blunt injuries. Besides, preventive treatment helps affected patients counter the symptoms of skeletal discomfort and seek physiotherapy for disability issues.

CTA: Prone to frequent lower back issues? Book your diagnosis session at the CK Birla Hospital online today. Also, receive a complete checkup conveniently under leading rheumatologist Dr. Rajiv Ranjan Kumar for potential ankylosing spondylitis symptoms.

FAQs 

1. Is ankylosing spondylitis a critical condition?

Ankylosing spondylitis has no treatment at present. This autoimmune condition affects the hip and gradually fuses bones, starting from the sacroiliac region.

It spreads from the tailbone to the neck region and leads to gradual disability, if not a hunchback posture.

You may also experience breathing issues when it affects the thoracic ribs.  

2. What’s the nature of ankylosing spondylitis pain?

Patients experiencing ankylosis spondylitis in its early stages report it as prolonged back problems. Prominent signs include pain spreading from the lower spinal cord to the surrounding and upper skeletal structure, with inflammation at the base of the spinal cord, making it impossible to sit upright.

Besides, stiffness and frequent inflammation make ankylosis spondylitis different from usual sprains and body aches. 

3. Does ankylosing spondylitis lead to permanent disability?

Ankylosing spondylitis causes motor problems from the early stages as spinal bones gradually fuse and lower the natural flexibility.

Besides, the risk of osteoporosis prevails while you may develop weakness in skeletal muscle and overall body strength. Again, this enhances the risk of further damage from blunt injury (collision or falling).

During advanced stages, patients are prone to heart attack and can experience permanent disability. 

4. Does pathological diagnosis help in detecting ankylosing spondylitis at a nascent stage?

Ankylosing spondylitis happens from an underlying genetic mutation that makes it an autoimmune illness. The responsible gene HLA-B27 gets detected using blood tests among individuals experiencing unexplained lower back aches.

Rheumatologists check for suspected markers (HLA-B27) limited to persons of European descent (8%).

However, ankylosing spondylitis patients comprise only 2-5 people when screening in a population of 100,000. 

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