What is the meaning of Ankylosing Spondylitis? 

While many are familiar with arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis is a rare type of arthritis that affects the spine and the joints.  Also known as Bechterew’s disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis is a medical condition that causes severe inflammation of vertebrae. Generally common in men than in women, this medical condition can cause painful back and deformity stiffness. 

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis : 

Although the exact cause of this disease is not known, genes are one of the Ankylosing Spondylitis factors. Genetics play a vital role in this disease. People with the gene HLA-B27 are at risk of developing the disease.  While not everyone with this gene has Ankylosing Spondylitis, there are chances of you acquiring it, if you have this disease running in your family. 

Symptoms : 

The symptoms of this disease usually start showing up in the late teens or early 30s. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a lifelong condition, which starts at your lower back and can spread up to your neck. At first, Ankylosing Spondylitis is felt on one side of the body. With time the spondylitis pain areas can become debilitating and challenging to handle. Some early signs and symptoms of this disorder that you need to be aware of are – 

  • Pain the large joints such as hips and shoulders 
  • Poor posture, Stooped shoulders. 
  • Early morning stiffness and pain that lasts at least 30 minutes 
  • Pain in one of the buttocks or back of the thighs
  • Weight loss, loss of appetite 
  • Fever, fatigue 
  • One may experience anaemia 
  • Reduced functioning of the lung.  

Ankylosing Spondylitis can often be mistaken for common back pain. However, one needs to differentiate between long-lasting pain caused by this medical condition and short term discomfort inflicted by the everyday back pain.

Ankylosing Spondylitis in women: 

Ankylosing Spondylitis doesn’t just affect men, and it also affects women. Detecting AS in women can be difficult as women may take longer to be diagnosed. Some of the Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms in females are – 

  • Increased fatigue 
  • Increase level of stiffness 
  • Pain experienced more at night. 
  • Pain felt in the neck, knees and hips.

It has been observed that women experience systemic symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis such as Psoriasis (inflammation of the skin), Uveitis (inflammation in the coloured portion of the eye), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (inflammation of the GI tract). This is pain that affects areas of the body other than joints, thus delaying this disorder’s diagnosis in women. Pregnant women with this disorder need to take special care of themselves, to avoid pregnancy complications. Those trying to conceive first need to work out with their doctors the required medications and care that will keep the inflammation low. 

Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment :

Presently there is no proper cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis. However, there are some spondylitis medicines and natural remedies that will help treat this disorder and spondylitis pain relief. With appropriate treatment, one can ease the symptoms and pain. For a more personalised and better diagnosis of your disease, consult the best neurologist in Jaipur

  • Medications: It is advised that one should seek proper guidance from a specialist before consuming any medications. Some of the medicines prescribed by doctors to reduce the inflammation are – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. Other drugs such as corticosteroids, etc are also prescribed. Medications should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision. 
  • Exercise: It is crucial that you stay active to avoid the stiffness of the back. Some of the spondylitis exercises you can do at home are – yoga, deep breathing, stretching, posture training, etc. Stretching is also a form of spondylitis physical exercise which will help your joints become more flexible and gain strength. Daily practise of these exercises can improve your condition and ease the pain. 
  • Posture training: AS leads to stiffness of the vertebrae, which leads to a bad posture. Hence, you must practise good posture to avoid slouching in the future. Use cushions or chairs to enhance your posture. 
  • Therapies: There are a number of therapies that you can try in order to enhance your condition. Some of them are – 
  1. Heat and cold therapy – A warm shower or heating pads can help to relieve your stiffness. Ice packs can improve swollen joints or inflammation. 
  2. Physical therapy – A physical therapist can help in easing your back pain. You must practice good posture techniques. 
  3. Massage – Massages are a good way of maintaining flexibility and getting rid of back pain. However, one must alert the masseuse about their medical condition, so they are aware of your tender spots around your back. 

Sleeping can be a problem for many. One may be concerned about how to sleep with cervical spondylitis. They can use a spondylitis pillow but it’s essential to seek help from an expert. Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis can be difficult; however, proper treatment and care can improve their condition.

You can prefer consulting a reputed neurologist through teleconsultation or online appointment for proper guidance and treatment for further health complications and issues related to ankylosing spondylitis.

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