Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that affects the joints and the spine. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints leading to chronic pain and discomfort.
A common symptom of ankylosing spondylitis is swelling of the joint where the bottom vertebra of the spine joins the pelvic bone. In some people, ankylosing spondylitis can also affect the shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, and feet and in more advanced cases this inflammation can lead to new bone formation which causes sections of the spine to fuse together into a fixed, non-moveable position. This fusion can be significant enough to fuse sacral iliac joints and actually prevent the ability to give birth naturally. AS also effects tendons and ligaments attach to the bones, in addition to the eyes (known as iritis or uveitis) and in rare, severe cases the lungs and heart can be affected.
If your healthcare provider suspects you may have ankylosing spondylitis, diagnosis usually occurs through imaging studies like x-ray or CT scans but to confirm any suspicious symptoms (as AS does not always show up on an x-ray) is to have blood work done, specifically HLA-B27. This protein is found on white blood cells and results will be positive if you have ankylosing spondylitis.
Treatment for AS usually includes medication, exercise, physical therapy, good posture practices, and other options such as applying heat/cold to help relax muscles and reduce joint pain.
Corrective chiropractic care, in combination with functional movement exercises and corrective traction are excellent options when deciding treatment options with AS. All three help to decrease the inflammatory process which in turn, will decrease the progression of AS on the joints and organs in the body.