Ankylosing spondylitis is a rheumatic disease that causes inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints.
It usually manifests with lumbar pain phases that can affect the entire spine and peripheral joints, causing pain in both, vertebral stiffness, loss of mobility and progressive joint deformity.
This pathology can be accompanied by extra-articular manifestations, such as inflammation in the eyes or in the valves of the heart.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but some specialists have linked it, in specific cases, to genetic inheritance.
It usually manifests in adolescence or youth and its incidence is higher in men. On the contrary, women can present the disease in a milder way, making their diagnosis more difficult. Its incidence also varies in different racial groups.
The symptoms that occur are the following:
1. Night pain and loss of mobility in the lumbar region are early manifestations. Although in most cases the symptoms begin in the lumbar and sacroiliac areas, it also usually affects the cervical and dorsal spine segments.
2. Eye inflammation.
3. Damage to the heart valves. On other occasions, ankylosing spondylitis precedes the development of inflammatory bowel disease and some patients have a high fever, fatigue, weight loss and anaemia.
Ankylosing spondylitis usually produces successive outbreaks of low back pain, with or without symptoms of arthritis (in the shoulders, hips, knees or ankles) or of inflammation at the points of attachment of tendons and ligaments to the bone.
During the phases in which the disease remits, the patient has no symptoms of the disease and can perform the activities required by his daily life.
Only those patients whose joints are affected, or develop ankylosis between the vertebrae, can suffer more or less severe losses of joint function.
The forms of treatment of ankylosing spondylitis are as follows:
Anti-inflammatory: They manage to relieve pain and reduce or suppress joint inflammation, which will allow a better quality of life for the patient, and prevent discomfort during nighttime rest.
Pain killers (analgesics): They are used to relieve pain.
Methotrexate: It is used primarily to stop arthritis of peripheral joints.
Rehabilitation: It is essential that individuals suffering from ankylosing spondylitis perform the physical exercises recommended by the rheumatologist. Thus, because the disease usually causes deformation of the spine, it is convenient for the patient to practice sports that strengthen the back. One of the best exercises for this is swimming.
Surgery: Only on some occasions, when the joints are badly damaged and mobility has been lost, surgical intervention is necessary.
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