A chronic inflammatory disease that causes arthritis symptoms in the spine, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) affects as many as 1.6 million Americans, usually starting in early adulthood. Affecting men twice as often as women, this arthritic condition can cause vertebrae to fuse and affect other tissue throughout your body.
AS is sometimes hard to diagnose because it presents differently between patients, and many of its symptoms can be shared with other, more common, conditions. You may think that pain stemming from your back or neck might be related to work or exertion, but it’s caused by inflammation of the vertebrae or other joints.
Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic can help to pinpoint when AS is the reason for your symptoms. While it has no cure, AS treatment can reduce your symptoms or slow the progression of your condition. Here are five common signs of ankylosing spondylitis that may point toward having the disease.
Pain where the spine and pelvis join
The pain from AS is typically chronic, which isn’t unusual for any back pain condition. If your pain is at the point of the lower back where your spine meets the pelvis, that’s often lower than other back pain issues that emerge. AS pain often comes and goes, too, you go through a cycle of pain and stiffness flare-ups.
Pain increases during inactivity
The inflammatory nature of AS means that your immune system tends to attack joints as you rest or remain inactive. Sleeping or working on a long project in a single position can create these conditions. You’ll be in more pain with less movement. Walking around tends to reduce stiffness and pain.
Moist heat eases the pain
Showering can also relieve your symptoms as heat breaks up the inflammatory activity of AS. You may also find relief from a strategically placed heating pad or hot water bottle.
Inflammation at the points where your spine and ribs interact can reduce the mobility of your rib cage, causing discomfort or pain and making it more difficult to breathe. Chest expansion may become limited.
Though many of the issues originating with AS involve the spine, you can experience symptoms elsewhere in your body, such as anywhere that ligaments and tendons connect to bones. While it isn’t common, AS can affect your jaw joints. One of the more unusual signs of AS is redness and inflammation in your eyes, a condition called uveitis. Affecting about 30% of AS patients, uveitis can be very painful and may make your eyes sensitive to bright light. Sometimes, uveitis is the first AS symptom for which patients seek treatment.
Our skilled team at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic can diagnose AS after examining and reviewing your symptom history. Some cases of AS can be confirmed by X-ray, but others aren’t visible. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can usually reveal AS earlier in the condition’s progression.
We have two locations in Jacksonville, so contact the nearest office by phone or online to arrange a consultation. We’re standing by to help you, so book your visit today.