Megan Rogerson our osteopath here at Back 2 Balance. In this blog she writes about what ankylosing spondylitis is and the signs and symptoms.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a long term inflammatory joint disease characterised by stiffness and fusion of the joints in the spine and pelvis. The exact cause of AS is unknown. It seems to affect men more than women. There are differences in how it presents in both genders. In women it involves the joints in the limbs, progresses less rapidly and causes less dramatic spinal changes. Many cases of AS remain undiagnosed because it can be so difficult to spot due to the wide range of symptoms. It usually develops in late adolescence to young adulthood. As well as the information in this blog, follow this link to the website ‘Versus Arthritis‘ for stories from people living with AS.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of early AS are low back and pelvis pain and stiffness, which may switch from side to side. The pain may start for no apparent reason and get progressively more persistent. It is often aggravated with rest and relieved with activity. People tend to report their back pain being worse in the mornings, often taking over an hour to loosen up. Their back pain may also interfere with their sleep, with the pain being worse in the second half of the night. The disease affects tendons where they attach to the bone, especially the muscles of the chest and ribs. This causes chest pain and restricted chest movement. Other symptoms include eye problems, skin problems such as psoriasis, weight loss, low grade fever and bowel and stomach issues.
It’s important to consult a healthcare professional if you have persistent back pain. Here at Back 2 Balance our osteopaths and chiropractors are highly trained to be on the lookout for symptoms of AS. If they suspect it, they may decide to take an x-ray to look for any changes in the spine. As well as this, they will refer you to your GP for further tests such as a blood test.
There is no cure for AS so a good multifaceted management plan is key. Pharmaceuticals can be used for pain management. Exercise, stretching, osteopathy, chiropractic and massage therapy are recommended to help keep your joints moving. It will also loosen off any tightness through muscles which may be contributing to the discomfort. AS in the long term has an effect on posture so your osteo/chiro can help you to maintain a good posture. As well as this they can also be there as your support. Your health care professional can also provide you with information on supplements and dietary changes. This will help to decrease inflammation and aid the body as much as possible. Here is a link to a 10 minute spinal stretching and mobility flow.