Ankylosing Spondylitis



What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

This joint disorder most commonly attacks males in their 20s. It has a predilection for the sacroiliac joint and also the joints of the spine. Less commonly the joints are affected too. The sacroiliac the large joint of the lower part of the back, where the spinal column is attached to the pelvic girdle bones (in the bones).

Males are affected in a 4 to 1 ratio. Rare compared to females. It is claimed to be a rare form of arthritis, affecting about 0.5 per of the male population. However, in the more recent discovery of the asnlation between the cell history compatibility factors known as B27, it seems that an enormous proportion of the population are potential subjects. In the future, there is little doubt that many more subclinical cases will be (that is, patients in whom there are obvious symptoms). There seems to be – inherited factor.



Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms

The earliest symptom is occurrence of low back pain. This occurs on insidiously, and waking with 7 S -ping stiffness may be the first sign. In it may be severe enough to wake the About one case in ten occurs in naolchildren. In some the joint affected be one in the lower limb, knee, ankle and joints. In a highly significant num- :a:- (perhaps as many as 40 per cent) an disorder called iritis may occur.

The symptoms spread, and so does the illness as a gradually stiffening spine airs. Following on from this, the large of the limbs may be affected. Forelimb is the hip. This tends to become stiff, and fixed, and this may produce : disability. The entire spine may be involved. Forced movement of hip joints produces pain.



The neck vertebrae may he affected, so the patient loses normal ability to upwards. However, usually there is the same degree of involvement of the systems of the body as occurs with rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis can lead to visual defects. .ally early treatment will check it, and a it is self-limiting, seldom causing less.. A very small number may suffer from ulcerative colitis and a number from a heart defect, but are rare.



A doctor often checks various ins assist in diagnosis. The rheumatic factor is negative, the ESR may be slughtly elevated, and there may be an anemia. X-rays are most helpful in diagram and erosive changes and bone de- -a:Um may be seen. When ankylosis (stiffness) occurs, the joint is obliterated.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

It is essential that the patient keep moving and exercising as actively as possible for as long as possible. The more the patient rests and remains immobile the quicker and more extensive will be the disorder and the destructive progress in the joints. Various analgesics and antiinflammatory forms of medication arc used, and these are similar to those used for rheumatoid arthritis.



The corticosteroids are seldom used. X-ray therapy, once advocated, is now rarely used, for it seems to increase the risk of leukaemia in later life. Sometimes in gross cases, surgery is also used. The disease runs a variable course, many patients being able to continue living relatively normal lives (up to 60 per cent in one investigation). Adequate medical supervision is necessary, but the patient may also do a lot to help with a sensible approach to living and exercise.

All the previous advice given to arthritics in general applies here. It involves a sensible nutritious food intake, probably supplemental vitamins and minerals, a sensible spread of foods involving protein, complex carbohydrates (grains in their near natural state), fruit, nuts, vegetables (not overcooked), a limited fat intake. Getting a certain amount of exercise each day assists, and helps keep inflamed joints mobile.



Walking and swimming (a heated pool if available) are always advantageous if possible, and probably represent the most valuable simple forms of routine exercise. There is a place for physiotherapy, also hydrotherapy.

A cheery disposition and positive outlook in life always help. Those with religious beliefs will find this very comforting, especially if their condition remains static or worsens. Placing faith in a higher power never goes amiss and helps one cope each day. There are a great many simple lines of action that a person can follow.