Ankylosing Spondylitis is a type of arthritis that mainly affects the spine. Specifically, Ankylosing Spondylitis is a condition that causes the joints of the spine and the joints between the spine and pelvis to become inflamed. The inflammation caused by Ankylosing Spondylitis results in pain and stiffness in the neck and back. Although there is no cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis, exercise can help relieve symptoms, and medicines are available to reduce pain. Medical professionals and researchers have not yet been able to determine a cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis, but research indicates that the condition by be partially hereditary. In fact there is a strong association between Ankylosing Spondylitis and a gene called HLA-B27. As a result, Ankylosing Spondylitis is often thought of and referred to as an autoimmune disease.
As Ankylosing Spondylitis worsens and the inflammation persists, new bone forms as a part of the body’s healing process. As a result of this process, vertebrae begin to grow together, forming vertical bony outgrowths (syndesmophytes). These outgrowths can become stiff and inflexible. Ankylosing Spondylitis can even reach the point at which this fusion process can also stiffen your rib cage, restricting lung capacity and function.
Even though there are no known cures for the Ankylosing Spondylitis condition, there are treatments that can reduce discomfort and improve the functionality of affected joints. Consider the following treatments of Ankylosing Spondylitis:
- Physical and occupational therapy (early intervention and therapy maintain function and minimize pain and deformities)
- Exercise (a program of daily exercise will reduce stiffness, and strengthen the muscles around the joints)
- Medications (certain drugs prescribed by a physician can relief from pain and stiffness)