WHAT IS ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS????
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis which mainly affects the back bone. In this condition the bones of the back i.e. spine, fuse together resulting in rigidity. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture which is popularly known as BAMBOO SPINE. If ribs are affected, it leads to breathing difficulties.
WHO IS COMMONLY AFFECTED?
Men of early adulthood between 20 years and 40 years of age more prone to be severely affected, whereas young women, even when affected suffer with less severe symptoms. Hereditary predisposition is also a major factor. People with ankylosing spondylitis are seen to have HLA B27 gene.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS?
- Recurrent episodes of low back pain and marked stiffness.
- Radiation of pain to buttocks or posterior thigh.
- Pain and stiffness of the lower back, hip which is constantly present for more than three months.
- Pain in ligaments and tendons that attaches to the bones are also likely to occur.
Early physical signs include
- Difficulty in forward flexion
- Restriction of movements of low back in all directions
- Pain on stressing the lower back region.
Later as the disease progresses:
- Stiffness increases throughout the spine and chest expansion becomes restricted.
- There will be pain in chest while breathing.
The most commonly affected areas are:
- The joint between the base of your spine and your pelvis (sacroiliac)
- The vertebrae (bones) in your lower back
- The places where your tendons and ligaments attach to bones (entheses), mainly in your spine, but sometimes along the back of your heel.
- The cartilage between your breastbone and ribs
- Your hip and shoulder joints
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?:
If one has low back pain or buttock pain that came on slowly, is worse in the morning or awakens you from your sleep in the second half of the night — particularly if this pain improves with exercise and worsens with rest should seek medical attention. Visit an ophthalmologist if you develop a painful red eye, severe light sensitivity or blurred vision.
WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM EFFECTS (COMPLICATIONS)?
In severe ankylosing spondylitis, new bone forms as part of the body’s attempt to heal. This new bone gradually bridges the gap between vertebrae and eventually fuses sections of vertebrae. Stiffness and inflexibility can affect ones daily routine. Stiffness in your rib cage, restricts lung capacity and function.
Other complications might include:
- Eye inflammation (uveitis): One of the most common complications of ankylosing spondylitis, uveitis can cause rapid-onset eye pain, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. See your doctor if you develop these symptoms.
- Compression fractures: Few of them experience thin bones during the early stages of ankylosing spondylitis. Weakened vertebrae can crumble, increasing the severity of your stooped posture. Vertebral fractures can put pressure on and possibly injure the spinal cord and the nerves that pass through the spine.
- Heart problems: Ankylosing spondylitis can cause problems with your aorta, the largest artery in your body. The inflamed aorta can lead to distort shape of the aortic valve in the heart, which impairs its function.
- Atypical upper lobe pulmonary fibrosis
WHAT ARE THE INVESTIGATING PROCEDURES THAT WILL HELP TO DIAGNOSE THE CONDITION?
- Digital X ray
- ESR (BLOOD TEST)
- CRP (BLOOD TEST)
- Testing for HLA-B27 (BLOOD TEST)
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION????
The aims are to relieve the pain and stiffness. Education regarding the nature of the disease and suggesting appropriate physical activity are vital key points to remember. In the early stages, performing daily back extension exercises is ideal. Swimming is the best option.
Homoeopathically, there are wonderful medicines to improve the overall well being by relieving the pain and stiffness, thereby improving the quality of life. Homoeopathy medicines also will prevent the further progressing of the disease and as a result the complications are avoided.