Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of an inflammatory disease that begins with affecting the axial skeletal joints of the body causing arthritis in them. It can also involve the joints of the periphery. The disease can progress and spread to other parts of the body as well.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory, auto immune disease. The exact cause of onset of this condition is not yet known. But, the person who develops this disease is known to possess an HLA-B27 gene. The incidence of this disease is more in men. It can occur at any age. The inflammatory condition of bones in children is known as Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis (JAS).
In ankylosing spondylitis, inflammation begins at the point where the ligaments and the muscle tendons attach to the bone. The most common site of inflammation is the sacroiliac joint. The disease can spread up to the whole spine causing stiffness and decreased mobility.
There are many symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis amongst which, the most common is back pain which usually occurs in young adults and people of old age group.Some of the Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms are mentioned as follows.
As mentioned earlier, the major symptom of ankylosing spondylitis is back pain. As the disease mainly affects the sacroiliac joints and gradually spreads up to the whole spine, hence pain in the back develops which is chronic.
The pain tends to get worse during night, in the morning after waking up and during rest. It gets better and reduced when the person becomes active, starts to move to perform work and after having a warm shower.
Inflammation anywhere in the body will cause pain and swelling in that area. Hence, the most affected part, that is, the sacroiliac joint is inflamed in ankylosing spondylitis. Due to this, the lower back, the area around the hips will be swelled and painful.
Not only the axial skeleton is affected, but the peripheral joints may also come under the influence of this disease.
Hence, swelling and pain in other joints such as those of the knees and ankles can indicate an ankylosing spondylitis symptom.
Referred pain means, pain in an area other than the affected part. In the case of ankylosing spondylitis, there may be a referred pain in the buttocks and the thighs.
As the inflammation begins at the point of attachment of ligaments and muscles to the pelvic bone, it causes swelling in the area. The bone will also tend to over grow as a result of which, bone bridges are formed between the vertebral bodies.
Hence, fusion of the spinal bones will occur which is termed as ankylosis. These bony bridges are responsible to produce stiffness in the spine.
Now after having known all the process and consequences of the inflammation of the joints, it may not be difficult to estimate why the spondylitis affected patients have difficulty in moving around. All the factors such as pain, swelling and stiffness contribute to difficulty and reduction in mobility and flexibility.
Another important symptom amongst the ankylosing spondylitis symptoms is the change in the person’s spinal posture. Due to the fusion of vertebral bones, the person can develop a forward bent posture known as stooped posture or kyphosis.
The fused vertebral bones are not strong enough to support a person’s structure. These formed bony bridges are brittle and vulnerable to fracture. Hence, fractures of the spine can be counted as an important symptom of ankylosing spondylitis.
If the arthritis occurs in the bones between the ribs and the spine, then the patient is likely to develop dyspnea, that is, difficulty in breathing.
Patients of ankylosing spondylitis are fatigued more than normal people.
In doing general physical activities or light exercises, the affected person may feel tired quickly.
Ankylosing spondylitis patients may develop inflammation in the middle layer of the eyes which is known as uveitis. The eyes of such patient are represented clinically as red and painful. Uveitis, if occurs must be treated without delay as it can also lead to loss of vision.
Inflammatory process in the body occurs when the immune cells react to secrete or to stimulate the secretion of various chemicals. These chemicals then act to kill a harmful microorganism in the body, or to eliminate a harmful foreign particle.
So, inflammation is considered to be a normal defense mechanism of the body. But sometimes the conditions go bad. These very immune cells of the body start attacking the healthy normal tissues and destroy them. Such conditions are known as inflammatory diseases.
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