Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis. Its first signs often appear in early adulthood. The expert team at the Rheumatic Disease Center in Milwaukee, Glendale, and Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, specializes in this chronic condition. They provide customized care that eases your pain, slows disease progression, and helps maintain movement and function. To see if your ongoing back pain is caused by ankylosing spondylitis, call the nearest Rheumatic Disease Center office today or schedule an appointment online.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the joints between the spinal vertebrae and sacroiliac joints. These joints connect your hip bones to the base of your spine. The disease can affect other joints, including your ribs, hips, shoulders, knees, and ankles.
The earliest signs of ankylosing spondylitis are pain and stiffness in your lower back and buttocks. As the inflammation continues and the disease gets worse, the joints swell and the pain spreads up your spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis can affect other joints, including your shoulders, hands, rib cage, hips, thighs, and feet.
Prolonged inflammation also triggers new bone growth. The new growth can fuse the vertebrae, limiting your spine’s flexibility and movement and making breathing difficult.
The inflammation caused by ankylosing spondylitis can spread, leading to problems beyond your joints. The most common include:
More than 40% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis develop an inflammatory eye condition called uveitis. This condition causes blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and painful, watery, red eyes. Uveitis can cause glaucoma, a detached retina, and vision loss without treatment.
Inflammatory bowel disease develops in many patients with ankylosing spondylitis.
Enthesitis is inflammation where ligaments and tendons attach to bones. This condition causes pain and swelling, often affecting your ribs and heels.
Your Rheumatic Disease Center provider diagnoses ankylosing spondylitis by reviewing your symptoms, completing a physical exam, and ordering in-office lab work and/or diagnostic imaging (ultrasound or X-rays).
The treatment goals are to ease pain, reduce inflammation, maintain function and movement, and prevent the disease from spreading. To accomplish these goals, your provider creates an integrative treatment plan that can include medication, physical therapy, an anti-inflammatory diet, and other lifestyle recommendations.
If you smoke, breaking the habit will ease your symptoms. Smoking increases inflammation and causes ankylosing spondylitis to get worse.
Ankylosing spondylitis can also raise your risk of osteoporosis. Your provider could recommend on-site bone density screening and begin treatment for weak, brittle bones.
Call the Rheumatic Disease Center today or request an appointment online to learn if your persistent back pain might be ankylosing spondylitis.