Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis? (AS)

Spondylitis describes a process of inflammation of the spinal joints. As healing occurs, extra bone is formed at the edge of the vertebral bones and may join the bones together causing stiffening(ankylosis).

Who gets it?

Commonly young males but can be females.

Why does it happen?

The cause is not known although there are some genetic factors.

The symptoms may include the following:-

  • Back pain/ache
  • Pain may radiate into buttock or legs
  • Occasionally pain in the heel or buttock bone (ischium)
  • Ache/stiffness in hips or knees, neck and shoulder
  • In some cases pain is only felt in the early stages of AS and reduces over time.
  • In rare cases AS may affect the iris of the eye and other organs and treatment is available for this.

Diagnosis

In the later stages x-ray may help to confirm the diagnosis.

Blood tests to detect inflammation and a specific antigen may also help to confirm the diagnosis.

What your physiotherapist can do

  • Hands-on treatment of joints to reduce stiffness and pain
  • Treatment to muscles and ligaments to maintain mobility and reduce pain
  • Electro-therapy to reduce pain
  • Advice on posture
  • Structured exercises to help keep joints and muscles flexible

What you can do

  • Keep fit and avoid becoming over-weight
  • Do your exercises
  • Maintain good posture
  • Use hot or cold packs to relieve pain and stiffness