Yesterday, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I’m brand new to this and I don’t know much about it, so this will be an educational process for all of us. The point of this post is to tell you what little I know about AS. I am hoping that after my Rheumatologist appointment next week I will have a better understanding of how it is and will be personally affecting me and of course I’ll share that, but for now let’s stick with the general facts of AS.
What is AS?
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a long-term auto-immune disease that causes inflammation of the joints between the spine and pelvis. It eventually causes the affected spinal bones to join together. Simply put, it’s arthritis of your spine and pelvis.
What does it affect?
AS can also cause inflammation in other joints such as the knees, hips, shoulders, ankles, ribs, heels, hands, and feet. Your eyes, lungs, and heart can also become affected although it is less likely. The SI joints seem to be where the disease progresses from (the base of the spine where it joins the pelvis). AS is more common in men than women. In addition, it can cause breathing to more laborious, your jaw can become stiff, and you will feel increased fatigue.
Is there a cure?
No. There is no known cure for AS but there are medications and treatments to reduce symptoms and manage the pain.
What about treatment and meds?
There are a range of treatment techniques and medications that vary from AS person to AS person. They include physical therapy, exercise, heat and cold, posture, sleeping and breathing exercises, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and tnf blockers. Surgery is also a potential technique although it is risky and uncommon.
So that’s about as much as I know right now. There’s a pretty great website called the Spondylitis Association of America in case you want to read more about AS… http://www.spondylitis.org/about/. Like I said, once I know more, I’ll write it. For now, I’m going to try to manage the pain and take it a day at a time.