Posts Tagged ‘chronic inflamation of the spine’

postheadericon Ankylosing Spondylitis-A Chronic Inflammation Of The Spine

By: Irene Fowler-Sharpe

It is believed that up to one in one hundred people suffer from Ankylosing Spondylitis; a chronic inflammation of the spine. Recent research suggests that the ratio of men and women suffering from the disease is about equal. AS is mostly a disease of younger people; often beginning before the age of twenty years of age, while rarely affecting people who are over the age of forty.

AS is a type of chronic arthritis that mainly affects the spine. In AS, the inflammation occurs in joints and in areas where tendons and ligaments attach to bones. When the disease becomes more advanced, inflammation of the spine can actually cause the spinal vertebrae to fuse.

As with many types of arthritis, the cause of AS is not known. If someone in your immediate family has the disease;like a parent, or sister or brother; then your risk of getting the disease goes up by twenty percent.

Usually AS starts off gradually. The first symptoms of the disease are usually aches and pains in the lower back;which are caused by inflammation of the sacroiliac joints, located in the lower back on both sides of the spine,just above the buttocks. If you have lower back pain that begins gradually and persists for months could be an indication that you have AS. Sometimes the back ache can be so severe that it can interrupt your sleep.

Although AS usually starts in the lower back, as the disease progresses it can move to other joints as well; especially the neck, shoulders and the hips. The spine will become stiff due to the pain and muscle spasms. In the final stages of AS, chronic inflammation can cause bony ridges to form between the vertabrae, causing the spine to fuse permanently into a bent and inflexible position.

AS is known as a systemic disease, often affecting areas of the body beyond the joints.  People with AS can experience weight loss, poor appetite, and fatigue as well as an inflammatory eye condition known as “iritis”.

Diagnosing AS can be a challanage for Doctors.There are several clues which Doctors will look for when they are trying to make a diagnosis of the disease. If a patient has had back pain which has developed gradually, if the person has stiffness in the morning when getting up, if the patient has been troubled continually for more than three months; and also if exercise helps to relieve the pain. The Doctor will also give a physical exam to determine the patients flexibility;  he may also press on the patients sacroliac joints to see if they are tender.

Besides the physical examination, the Doctor may order Lab tests and X-rays to determine if the disease is present.

On the brighter side of things; people who have AS usually lead normal lives. They have to take charge of the situation and include exercise in their daily routine. Regular activity enables AS patients to maintain a limber spine and prevents spinal deformity. Daily stretching exercises for the spine are especially recommended. Swimming is another great exercise for people with AS. Maintaining good posture is a prerequisite. Also, sleeping on a firm mattress is recommended.

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