What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) and can lead to severe chronic pain. In advanced cases, the inflammation can cause new bone formation in the spine, resulting in fusion of the vertebrae in a fixed, immobile position. AS can also cause pain and stiffness in in the shoulders, ribs, hips, heels and small joints of the hands and feet. There is no cure, but medications and other treatments can help manage pain and stiffness, and stop progression of the condition. AS most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 17 and 45, but it can also occur in children.
Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis
The most common symptoms are frequent pain and stiffness in the buttocks and lower back. There may also be fatigue as the body deals with the inflammation, or mild to moderate anemia.
Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis
A rheumatologist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating AS. Diagnosis will most often require a thorough physical exam, an individual medical history intake, labs and determination of a family history of AS. X-rays or an MRI may also be ordered to show any signs of the condition such as erosion of the sacroilliac joints.
Treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis
A variety of treatments and interventions may be prescribed for treating AS and will depend on the severity of the condition. The goal of treatment is to relive pain and stiffness, and delay spinal deformity. Your rheumatologist may recommend exercise, physical therapy, good posture practices, and other measures such as using heat/cold to relax muscles and reduce joint pain. In terms of medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and biologics are the drugs rheumatologists most commonly prescribe to treat ankylosing spondylitis.
The rheumatologists at Saint John’s Physician Partners have been integrally involved in the development of medications that treat inflammatory arthritis conditions for decades. They were involved in the clinical trials that led to the approval at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medications that treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (SpA), osteoarthritis, and other bone and skin conditions like osteoporosis and psoriasis advanced therapies, some of which are biologic treatments.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Specialists
Orrin Troum, M.D. and Amro Elbalkhi, M.D. provide consultation, diagnosis, and treatment for rheumatic diseases including inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis), scleroderma, myositis, gout, lupus, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. The Medical Doctors of Saint John’s strive to provide world class care and a personalized treatment plan for all patients and their families.