abilityclinicstage_53lbl2  .  Jan 31

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine. It

belongs to a group of inflammatory conditions known as spondyloarthropathies. Ankylosing spondylitis can cause inflammation in the joints between the vertebrae of the spine, leading to pain, stiffness, and, in advanced cases, fusion of the spine.

Key features of ankylosing spondylitis include:

1. Spinal Involvement: Ankylosing spondylitis most commonly affects the sacroiliac joints, where the spine meets the pelvis, and the joints between the vertebrae in the spine. Over time, chronic flexibility and mobility of the spine.

2. Back Pain and Stiffness: Persistent back pain and stiffness are hallmark symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. The pain is typically worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity and may improve with exercise.

3. Sacroiliitis: Inflammation of the sacroiliac joints can cause pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks. Sacroiliitis is a characteristic feature of ankylosing spondylitis.

4. Enthesitis: Enthesitis refers to inflammation at the sites where tendons or ligaments attach to bones. Ankylosing spondylitis commonly involves enthesitis, leading to pain and tenderness at these attachment points, especially in the heels and bottom of the feet.

5. Peripheral Joint Involvement: In addition to spinal symptoms, ankylosing spondylitis can affect peripheral joints, such as the hips, knees, and shoulders.

6. Fatigue: Chronic inflammation and pain can contribute to fatigue in individuals with ankylosing spondylitis.

7. Uveitis: Some people with ankylosing spondylitis may experience inflammation of the eyes, known as uveitis or iritis. This can cause eye pain, redness, and sensitivity to light.

8. Diagnosis: Diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, blood tests, and imaging studies (such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imagingor MRI).

9. Treatment: The goals of treatment for ankylosing spondylitis are to alleviate symptoms, prevent or slow the progression of joint damage, and improve overall function. Treatment may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologic medications, and physical therapy. Exercise, including specific stretching and strengthening exercises, is often recommended to maintain flexibility and posture.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition, and its course can vary from person to person. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are crucial for improving long-term outcomes and preserving function. Individuals with ankylosing spondylitis often work closely with rheumatologists and other healthcare professionals to tailor a treatment plan that addresses their specific needs.

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