Complications and how is a person affected ? Although ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and related diseases (SpA), sometimes collectively called spondylitis for short, are conditions primarily affecting the spine, other areas of the body can also be involved. Spondylitis does not follow the same course in everyone; even among family members. That said, there are some complications or symptoms that are more common than others. For instance, inflammation of the eye, or iritis, is very common, while neurological symptoms are very rare, and shoulder involvement appears somewhere in the middle. The chronic pain often caused from the inflammation can vary from person to person and range from mild to very severe.
Enthesitis (Inflammation Where the Ligaments Attach to the Bone)
Inflammation of the enthesis, where the joint capsules, ligaments or tendons attach to the bone, is a hallmark of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). This can be felt in multiple areas of the body where your doctor can check for pain and tenderness. The sites are sometimes referred to as “hot-spots.” They can lead to swelling and tenderness along the back, pelvic bones sacroiliac joints, the chest, and the heel. The heel can be significantly affected, in which case the pain and tenderness can have a serious impact on a person’s mobility. The two areas of the foot that can be affected are the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel, and the plantar fascia at the base of the heel.
Who Gets Ankylosing Spondylitis ?.
AS usually begins in the teen or young adult years. Most people who have the disease get symptoms before age 30. Only five percent get symptoms after age 45. It affects people for the rest of their lives. And it affects about twice as many men as women.
What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis ?.
The cause of AS is unknown. It’s likely that genes (passed from parents to children) and the environment both play a role. The main gene associated with the risk for AS is called HLA-B27. Having the gene doesn’t mean you will get AS. Fewer than 1 of 20 people with HLA-B27 gets AS. Scientists recently discovered two more genes (IL23R and ERAP1) that, along with HLA-B27, carry a genetic risk for AS.
How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosed ?
To diagnose AS, your doctor will need:
A medical history
A physical exam
X rays or MRIs
Who Diagnoses and Treats Ankylosing Spondylitis ?.
Often, a rheumatologist will diagnose AS. This is a doctor trained to treat arthritis and related conditions. Because AS can affect different parts of your body, you may need to see more than one doctor. Some other types of doctors who treat the symptoms of AS are:
An ophthalmologist, who treats eye disease.
A gastroenterologist, who treats bowel disease.
A physiatrist, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
A physical therapist, who provides stretching and exercise regimens.
Can Ankylosing Spondylitis Be Cured ?
There is no cure for AS. Some treatments relieve symptoms and may keep the disease from getting worse. In most cases, treatment involves medicine, exercise, and self-help measures. In some cases, surgery can repair some joint damage.
Video overview on Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Foot Health Matters is a HCPC Registered Podiatry Practice in South Belfast. Northern Ireland BT10 0DR Tel: 028-90-611619.