Ankylosing spondylitis refers to inflammation of the spinal joints. It primarily affects the spine, shoulders, hips and knees.
Sacroiliac joints are very important structures in this disease. They are usually the first to become inflamed. From there, the inflammation can spread to other joints between the vertebrae.
What is the cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
The cause of this disease is unknown. However, it affects people who have a specific signal in their cells. This signal is transmitted by genetic inheritance and is called “HLA B-27”.
Therefore, the genetic transmission of this signal explains why this disease is more common in certain groups of people.
Which are the symptoms?
- Lumbar pain, which usually starts in the third decade.
- Morning stiffness.
- Improvement of symptoms with physical activity.
The first thing that the person notices is usually lumbar pain. It is produced by the inflammation of the sacroiliac and vertebral joints. This pain is inflammatory, manifests slowly and gradually.
Lumbar pain appears at rest, improving with physical activity. In this way, the pain is usually maximum in the late hours of the night and in the early hours of the morning.
As a consequence, this symptom forces the person to get up and walk, in order to have relief and even disappearance of pain.
There are a series of medicines and rehabilitation techniques. They could relieve painful symptoms and allow good mobility, avoiding an unfavourable evolution of the disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce and even suppress joint inflammation, relieving pain and allowing adequate nighttime rest.
However, the most important pillar in the treatment of spondylitis is physiotherapy.
On the other hand, practising sports is very useful. This allows the extension of the back, and maintains the mobility of the shoulders and hips.
Surgery contributes little to the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. It can only be necessary on severely damaged joints that have very little mobility (mainly the hip).