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What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

By Madhusudhan Tammisetti

Ankylosing spondylitis is a medical condition that leads to chronic inflammation of the spine. People with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) suffer from sacroiliac joint inflammation situated between the pelvis and the spine's base. Sacroiliitis, an inflammation, is one of the first symptoms of AS. Inflammation also extends to the joints located in the vertebrae, the bones that constitute the spinal column. This medical condition is termed spondylitis.

Along with stiffness, some people with AS suffer from extreme, chronic back and hip pain. Others suffer from milder symptoms that are temporary. With time, new bone formations may bind vertebrae parts together, leading to a rigid spine. This condition is known as ankylosis.

Causes

About 95 percent of the people suffering from AS have a human leukocyte antigen-B gene (HLA-B) mutation. This gene that has been modified or mutated creates a protein named HLA-B27 that increases disease risk. But most people with an HLA-B gene variation don't get AS. In fact, the disease does not develop in 80 percent of children who got the mutated gene from a parent having AS. The disease has been connected to more than 60 genes.

Symptoms

In the initial stages, ankylosing spondylitis may cause pain and stiffness in the lower back lasting for at least 30 minutes, which eases with activity or passing of the day. Pain caused due to AS may make you wake up in the night. You may feel pain in the hips and backs of the thighs.

At times, AS may be confused with common backache. Sometimes, people with AS may experience brief and painful spells of common backaches. But the pain from AS may be long lasting.

You might even have pain in the shoulder, neck, hip, or thigh, which may worsen because you haven't been active for a while, for instance, sitting in a chair and working for long periods. Some may feel stiffness, pain, and swelling in their ankles or knees.

With time, the pain and stiffness may vary. If it affects most of the spine, it may be difficult for you to do simple tasks such as twisting, turning, or bending.

You may get chest pain or tightness. This may lead to difficulty in taking deep breaths. Your ribs may become very sore, and even during light exercise, you may notice that you are out of oxygen. Sneezing or coughing may cause discomfort or pain.

Consulting a chiropractor may help you deal with the AS. Physical therapy may help you overcome difficulties caused due to AS. Physical therapy may correct your posture, improve muscle strength, and work on your back and neck.

You may have to change your lifestyle and dietary habits to fight AS. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding drinking and smoking may help you.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Phoenix, Ariz.

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