Ankylosing Spondylitis - Experience

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What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joints are located at the base of the low back where the sacrum (the bone directly above the tailbone) meets the iliac bones (bones on either side of the upper buttocks) of the pelvis. Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine, including the neck and back. Over time, chronic inflammation of the spine (spondylitis) can lead to a complete cementing together (fusion) of the vertebrae, a process referred to as ankylosis. Ankylosis causes loss of mobility of the spine.

Inflammation of Spondyloarthropathy Illustration - Picture of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Picture of areas of inflammation in ankylosing spondylitis inflammation

Ankylosing spondylitis is also a systemic disease, meaning it can affect tissues throughout the body, not just the spine. Accordingly, it can cause inflammation in and injury to other joints away from the spine manifest as arthritis, as well as to other organs, such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Ankylosing spondylitis shares many features with several other arthritis conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter's disease), and arthritis associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Each of these arthritic conditions can cause disease and inflammation in the spine, other joints, eyes, skin, mouth, and various organs. In view of their similarities and tendency to cause inflammation of the spine, these conditions are collectively referred to as "spondyloarthropathies." Ankylosing spondylitis is considered one of the many rheumatic diseases because it can cause symptoms involving muscles and joints.

Ankylosing spondylitis is two to three times more common in men than in women. In women, joints away from the spine are more frequently affected than in men. Ankylosing spondylitis affects all age groups, including children. When it affects children, it is referred to as juvenile ankylosing spondylitis. The most common age of onset of symptoms is in the second and third decades of life. Ankylosing spondylitis is often abbreviated AS and has been referred to as Bechterew's disease.

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Comment from: my experiance, 25-34 Male (Caregiver) Published: December 01

For the past 4 to 5 years I have been having back pain. I spent lot of time for treatment, medicines and exercises for ankylosing spondylitis. After all this effort all I could feel was one short term improvement. I used to walk 4 to 5 km daily in the evening but the very next morning I could feel stiffness to my neck and back. Then I tried yoga. Doing yoga I found big relief to my back pain. The breathing exercises for my lungs and body were really effective.

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Comment from: RTS, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 30

I am 46 years old and had my first symptom when I was 16. Ankylosing spondylitis started out with uveitis and shortly after came joint inflammation, back pain, sacroiliitis and everything else. During the last three decades I've been watching my spine and neck get stiff, pain follows me most of the days. I take only NSAIDs and short courses of oral steroids in low doses when things get ugly. As a physician, I'm always exposed to infectious diseases at the hospital so I chose not to take TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers. I work at least 12 hours a day and dedicate my time to helping people as much as I can. I'll keep doing my best until it's all over eventually. I'm a happy and fortunate man.

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