Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis in which there is long term inflammation of the joints of the spine
Although the cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown, there is a strong genetic or family link. Most, but not all, people with spondylitis carry a gene called HLA-B27. Although people carrying this gene are more likely to develop spondylitis, it is also found in up to 10% of people who have no signs of the condition.
- Your sex. Men are more likely to develop ankylosing spondylitis than are women.
- Your age. Onset generally occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood
- Your heredity. Most people who have ankylosing spondylitis have the HLA-B27 gene. But many people who have this gene never develop ankylosing spondylitis.
Three main symptoms characterize ankylosing spondylitis:
- loss of mobility
The areas most commonly affected are:
- The joint between the base of your spine and your pelvis (sacroiliac)
- The vertebrae in your lower back
- The places where your tendons and ligaments attach to bones (entheses), mainly in your spine, but sometimes along the back of your heel
- The cartilage between your breastbone and ribs
- Your hip and shoulder joints.
Besides seeing your doctor regularly and taking your medications as prescribed, here are some things you can do to help your condition.
- Stay active. Exercise
- Apply heat and cold
- Don’t smoke
- Practice good posture
- Avoid bleaching.
Treatment is essentially to minimize or prevent deformity. These deformities are excessive dorsal kyphosis with compensatory cervical lordosis and hip flexion contracture. Non-Surgical treatment involves:
- Proper sleeping posture on a solid, flat bed without pillow. Frequent sleeping or lying in prone position.
- Posture exercises with upper back hyperextension (performed with avoidance of lumbar hyperextension).
- Breathing exercises to increase or maintain rib cage excursion, as well as instruction in abdominothorasic breathing.
- Range of motion exercises for hips and knees to prevent flexion limitation and contractures.
- Periodic rest periods with avoidance of fatigue.
- Bracing or corseting (combined with exercises).
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