Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and potentially the fusion of the vertebrae. Here are key points about ankylosing spondylitis:

1. Inflammatory Arthritis:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis is classified as a spondyloarthritis, a group of inflammatory diseases that affect the joints and ligaments.

2. Predominantly Affects the Spine:

  • The condition primarily affects the spine, causing inflammation in the sacroiliac joints (where the spine meets the pelvis).
  • Over time, inflammation can lead to the fusion of vertebrae, resulting in reduced flexibility and mobility.

3. Symptoms:

  • Common symptoms include lower back pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • In some cases, inflammation may also affect other joints, such as the hips, shoulders, and knees.

4. Age of Onset:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood, but it can occur at any age.

5. Association with HLA-B27:

  • The majority of individuals with ankylosing spondylitis carry a genetic marker called HLA-B27.
  • However, having HLA-B27 does not guarantee the development of the condition, and not everyone with AS has this marker.

6. Diagnosis:

  • Diagnosis is based on a combination of medical history, physical examination, blood tests (including HLA-B27), and imaging studies (X-rays, MRI) to assess joint damage and inflammation.

7. Treatment:

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used to manage pain and inflammation. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics may be prescribed in more severe cases.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to improve posture, flexibility, and strength.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity.

8. Complications:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis can lead to complications such as kyphosis (a forward-stooped posture), uveitis (eye inflammation), and involvement of other organs.

9. Ongoing Monitoring:

  • Regular follow-ups with a rheumatologist are important to monitor disease activity, adjust treatment as needed, and address any new symptoms.

10. Exercise Importance: – Regular exercise, especially activities that promote flexibility and posture, is crucial in managing ankylosing spondylitis.

11. Patient Education and Support: – Education about the condition, its management, and lifestyle adaptations is important for individuals with ankylosing spondylitis.