Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the joints of the spine and sacroiliac (the joints between the spine and the pelvic bone). It can also affect other joints such as the knees, shoulders and hands.
Symptoms of AS include pain and stiffness in the lower back and pelvis, especially in the morning or after sitting for a prolonged period. There may also be pain and stiffness in the sacroiliac joints, which can extend to the legs. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, weight loss and difficulty sleeping.
It is believed that AS is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Studies have identified certain genes associated with an increased risk of developing AS, and a link has also been found between AS and certain bacterial and viral infections.
Treatment for AS focuses on reducing inflammation and relieving pain and stiffness. Commonly used medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, immunosuppressant medications and biological therapy. Physiotherapy and exercise can also help to improve joint mobility and function. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to improve the patient’s quality of life.
It is important to work with a healthcare team to find the best treatment plan for your individual case of ankylosing spondylitis. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, to help control symptoms and improve quality of life. It is also important to receive ongoing follow-up and monitoring with your specialist to track the progression of the disease and promptly address any complications.