Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) – what to look for if you think you might have ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) usually develop slowly over several months or years. The symptoms may come and go, and improve or get worse, over many years.

AS usually first starts to develop during the later teenage years or early adulthood.

The main symptoms of AS are described below, although you may not develop all of these if you have the condition.

Back pain and stiffness

Back pain and stiffness are usually the main symptoms of AS. You may find:

the pain gets better with exercise, but doesn’t improve or gets worse with rest

the pain and stiffness is worse in the morning and at night – you may wake up regularly during the night because of the pain

you have pain in the area around your buttocks

Arthritis

As well as causing symptoms in your back and spine, AS can also cause inflammation of the joints (arthritis) in other parts of your body, such as your hips and knees.

The main symptoms associated with arthritis are:

pain on moving the affected joint

tenderness when the affected joint is examined

swelling and warmth in the affected area

Enthesitis

Enthesitis is painful inflammation where a bone is joined to a tendon (a tough cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones) or a ligament (a band of tissue that connects bones to bones).

Common sites for enthesitis are:

at the top of the shin bone

behind the heel (Achilles tendon)

under the heel

where the ribs join the breast bone

If your ribs are affected, you may experience chest pain and find it difficult to expand your chest when breathing deeply.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of untreated AS. It can make you feel tired and lacking in energy.

Pain management – Is your pain worse today than it was one year ago?

Pain - is it getting worse?
Pain – is it getting worse?
As you may know by now one of the main objects of this blog is to help provide our readers with a forum which gives support for people who live on a day to day basis.

Of course there are many conditions which cause severe pain such , as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraines, POTS, fibromyalgia, cancer and ankylosing spondylitis. But today we are interested in focusing on pain management in general.

We would like to use today’s blog to ask our readers if you feel your pain is worse today than it was a year ago.

Sadly in my case it is much worse.

Also it would be great if you could share how you feel your pain management is working in the comments section below. In particular it would be great if you could tell us why your pain is getting better or worse over the last 12 months.

But before that we would invite you to take part in the poll below.

Ankylosing spondylitis – signs, symptoms and what it is really like to have AS!

ankylosing spondylitis
ankylosing spondylitis

As many of you know by now May is Arthritis Awareness Month. As part of our support for the month we have decided to highlight a few different arthritic conditions. For those who are interested we have looked at Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Fibromyalgia in some detail in previous blog posts on PatientTalk.Org.

Today we wish to focus on Ankylosing spondylitis. Primarily it is a spinal condition though it can also affect other parts of the body. There are two objectives to this blog post. Firstly to raise awareness of Ankylosing spondylitis among our readership and the wider community. Secondly to give an opportunity for people with AS to share their experiences and story. Hopefully it will provide useful information and support for those who have just been diagnosed with the condition .

Normally the symptoms develop over a period of time (in fact, several months is common). Typically they include:-

a) Back pain. Interestingly rest seems not to help here but exercise does.
b) Fatigue
c) Pain and swelling often in the arms and legs.

The inflammation can cause the spine to fuse which is referred to as ankylosis. Causes are as yet unconfirmed but it is believed to have a genetic link. Typically in the Uk around 1 in 300 people have been diagnosed with the condition. Interestly around three quarters of those affected are female. And most cases seem to start when the person with AS is in their twenties.

Treatments include

a) Pain Management
b) Exercise – check out our previous blog post on exercise for people in pain!
c) Physiotherapy.

In severe cases of AS surgery is used to help with the fusion of the spine.

So over to you. We would love to hear the voices of people in the Ankylosing spondylitis community. It would be great if you could use the comments box below to share your story. Please feel free to include anything you think may be of interest but you may wish to consider the following questions?

1) At what age did your first symptoms appear?
2) What were those symptoms?
3) How have the symptoms progressed over time?
4) How supportive have you family and friends been?
5) What treatments have you used for AS and how effective have they been?
6) Is there one piece of advice you would give to somebody who has just been diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis?

If you can suggest any good blogs, groups and sources of info that would be great as well.

Many thanks in advance for your help!