Ankylosing spondylitis

Description of Ankylosing spondylitis

Description
 
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that affects the spine. An affected individual experiences pain and stiffness from the neck radiating down to the lower back. Over the period, the vertebrae may grow or fuse with one another, which forms a rigid spine. The fusing of vertebrae and rigid spine may also result in a stooped-over posture.
 
Causes and Risk Factors
 
There is no specific cause for the development of AS. However, some common causes involve genetic factors (individuals with a particular gene called HLA-B27 are at a greater risk of developing AS).

Common risk factors are:
1. Age: Generally occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood
2. Gender: Males are more prone to developing AS as compared to females
3. Heredity: Presence of the HLA-B27 gene
4. Family history of the disease
5. Frequent gastrointestinal infections
 
Signs and Symptoms
 
Common symptoms include:
1. Pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips, particularly worse in the mornings and after periods of inactivity
2. Fever
3. Fatigue
4. Loss of appetite
5. Eye inflammation (pain and redness) may also occur in some cases
6. Lung and heart problems may also develop in some cases
 
Investigations
 
1. Your doctor may ask for the symptoms and examine you physically.
2. You may be recommended to get some imaging tests done such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
3. Measurements of the chest when breathing
4. You may be asked to get some laboratory tests done such as blood tests to check for markers of inflammation.
 
Treatment
 
There is no cure for AS. However, there are certain treatments that can lessen discomfort thereby improving function. The main purpose of treatment is to reduce pain and stiffness, prevent deformity, maintain a good posture, and preserve the ability to perform normal activities.
1. Medications include:
a) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
b) Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate
c) Relatively new drugs called biologics such as certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), adalimumab (Humira), and etanercept(Enbrel)
2. Exercise regularly: Daily moderate exercise regimen helps to lessen stiffness, strengthen the muscles around the joints, and prevent or reduce the risk of disability
3. Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions about Ankylosing spondylitis

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