Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disorder that is typically characterized by inflammation in joints between the vertebrae of the spine or of the vertebrae located between the spine and pelvic region. Although prevention of this disorder is not possible, knowing the signs and symptoms and your risk factors can aid in diagnosis, which can lead to earlier treatment and slow the progression. However, it is important to mention that remission of AS is usually only short lived and individual experiences will vary by the patient.
Risk Factors for Ankylosing Spondylitis
The risk factors for developing AS include heredity, age and sex. Men are more likely than women to suffer from this disorder and those with a family history are also more likely to suffer from AS. In most cases, the initial signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis appear between the late teens and the age of 40. However, there have been incidents of younger or older persons that exhibit signs and symptoms at an earlier or later point in life.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of AS?
There are multiple signs and symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis. While the chief complaint for many AS patients is back pain and inflammation, other areas of the body may be affected. In the early stages, symptoms may only be limited to pain in the hips and back, but as the disease progresses more subtle changes can be noted. This can include problems with the eyes, pain and inflammation of joints and tendons in other areas of the body, such as the torso, legs and lower extremities. In the more advanced stages AS can cause more serious and systemic effects. This can include sensitivity to light, blurred vision, decreased mobility and weight loss. In some cases, bowel inflammation and stooped posture can also occur.
Complications Caused By Ankylosing Spondylitis
Serious complications can ensue AS. The disorder may be responsible for conditions such as anemia and inflammatory bowel disease. In addition to this, the heart and lungs can also be affected. Due to restrictions in chest expansion, breathing may become difficult for individuals in the latter stages. Heart valve disorders can also develop if the inflammation proceeds to the chest cavity. If the bones of the spine eventually fuse, mobility issues can become permanent.
Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis
There are many diagnostic considerations when it comes to AS. In the early to middle stages of this disorder, the signs and symptoms may easily be attributed to other common conditions. Sprains, strains and arthritis may often be blamed. However, once the disease is suspected, the diagnostic process can begin. The physician will often order blood tests and/or x-rays to aid in confirming or denying a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis.
About Ankylosing Spondylitis. Spondylitis Association of America. 2009. Viewed 12, October 2010. http://www.spondylitis.org/about/ankylosing_spondylitis.aspx
Ankylosing Spondylitis. Mayo Clinic. 3, February 2010. Viewed 12, October 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/ankylosing-spondylitis/DS00483/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print
Ankylosing Spondylitis: Tests and Diagnosis. Mayo Clinic. 3, February 2010. Viewed 12, October 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ankylosing-spondylitis/DS00483/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis