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ankylosing spondylitis – causes, symptoms, treatment at home & more

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ankylosing spondylitis definition

‘Ankylosing spondylitis is one of the rare forms of arthritis. It causes inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints. Ankylosing spondylitis is characterised by a chronic stiffening of several joints and ligaments resulting in severe pain and reduced mobility of the spine.’

Content is medically reviewed by:

Shruti Bangera, Masters In Neurological Physiotherapy, Senior Physiotherapist & SME, Portea

what is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a rare type of arthritis and is more common in men than women. It is an inflammatory disease causing inflammation between the vertebrae causing chronic pain. Ankylosing spondylitis can also cause new bone growth between the vertebrae leading to the fusion of the vertebrae over time and making the spine fixed and immobile.  Few cases of ankylosing spondylitis have also been found to affect the eyes, heart, lungs and kidneys.

what are ankylosing spondylitis symptoms:

The primary ankylosing spondylitis symptoms are dull pain and stiffness in the morning after waking up or after a period of rest. Over time the ankylosing spondylitis symptoms can get worse. The all symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis which are most common are;

  • Dull Pain and Stiffness: Primary symptoms, most notable in the morning or after rest.
  • Neck Pain and Fatigue: Common discomfort along with overall tiredness.
  • Reduced Spine Mobility: Difficulty in movement due to spinal stiffness.
  • Limited Chest Expansion: Restricted movement affecting breathing.
  • Unintended Weight Loss: Often a result of chronic inflammation.
  • Fever: A systemic symptom of the underlying inflammation.
  • Pain in the Buttocks and Thigh: Extending discomfort beyond the spine.
  • Arthritis in the Hips: Joint involvement leading to additional pain and mobility issues.

ankylosing spondylitis causes:

The exact ankylosing spondylitis cause is yet to be ascertained, although a genetic link has been found and most people affected with ankylosing spondylitis have been found with HLA – B27 gene but, not all. Some of the risk factors associated with ankylosing spondylitis cause are;

  • Sex – Men are more susceptible to the disease than women
  • Age – Ankylosing spondylitis mostly affects people in late adolescence and early adulthood.
  • Genetics – People having HLA B27 gene are more susceptible to ankylosing spondylitis than others.

ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis

Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of spinal arthritis, is primarily diagnosed through radiological evaluations, as there is no direct test for its definitive diagnosis. The key diagnostic approach involves identifying specific changes in the sacroiliac joints and spine. Various tools and tests aid in this process:

  • MRI Scans: Offer detailed images of bones and soft tissues, helping detect early signs of inflammation and structural changes in the spine and sacroiliac joints not visible on X-rays.
  • X-Rays: Utilized to identify advanced changes in the spine and sacroiliac joints, such as fusion or erosion, indicative of ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Blood Tests: Check for elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), which signal inflammation in the body.
  • Genetic Testing: Specifically for the HLA-B27 gene, as a significant proportion of individuals with ankylosing spondylitis carry this gene. However, its presence alone does not confirm the disease, nor does its absence rule it out.
  • Schober’s Test: A physical examination test to assess the flexibility of the lumbar spine, which can be reduced in ankylosing spondylitis.

ankylosing spondylitis treatment

Like in several other types of arthritis there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, although the ankylosing spondylitis treatment offered goes a long way in managing the symptoms, reducing pain and prevention of progression of the disease. Early detection and timely ankylosing spondylitis treatment is necessary for a better quality of life. The varied treatment courses of ankylosing spondylitis are as follows;

Medications for ankylosing spondylitis:

Non – steroid anti – inflammatory drugs, opiod painkillers, disease – modifying anti – rheumatic drugs and analgesics are the most common form of medications.

Ankylosing spondylitis surgery:

In severe case of ankylosing spondylitis surgery is offered as ankylosing spondylitis treatment. Surgical procedures are advised to fix severe flexion deformities.

Ankylosing spondylitis physical therapy:

Ankylosing spondylitis physiotherapy is an integral part of Ankylosing spondylitis treatment and is often advised in conjunction with conventional treatments. Ankylosing spondylitis physical therapy is often recommended to people suffering from ankylosing spondylitis as it helps in better management of the symptoms, reducing pain and preventing the further progression of the disease. Ankylosing spondylitis physiotherapy has also proved beneficial with strengthening the core muscles and spine, increasing the range of spine mobility through specially designed ankylosing spondylitis exercises. Regular practice of these ankylosing spondylitis exercises is crucial to attaining the benefits of ankylosing spondylitis physiotherapy.

ankylosing spondylitis home treatment:

The varied ankylosing spondylitis remedies offered in ankle spondylitis treatment at home are;

  • Regular practice of ankylosing spondylitis exercises as demonstrated by a physiotherapist and yoga
  • Maintaining good posture while sitting, standing or sleeping
  • Warm baths with Epsom salts would relax the muscles and provide ankylosing spondylitis relief
  • Massage can prove comforting and would relief the stress

ankylosing spondylitis prognosis

Ankylosing spondylitis is pretty complex disease as not much is clear about the disease in terms of the symptoms and causes. Similarly, the prognosis of the disease is also pretty complex and quite difficult to predict, the pain and symptoms appear and disappear from time to time.

The severity of the pain also varies with person to person, while some people don’t face much issues with their mobility and can even have the disease come to a complete standstill, others are not so lucky and have the disease progress into a disability.

In some cases ankylosing spondylitis is limited only to the sacroiliac joints and as such don’t face much mobility problems, in others the disease can take a severe form and cause fusion of the spinal vertebrae leading to complete stiffness of the spine and loss of mobility.

The most important thing to remember in ankylosing spondylitis is getting timely medical attention and ankylosing spondylitis treatment to restrict the disease in its early stages. Although, there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis people affected with it should not completely forego treatment or it may flare up into a major disability.

CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS

It affects the cervical vertebrae of the neck region and is extremely common type of spondylosis

THORACIC SPONDYLOSIS

It affects the middle back and is pretty rare.

LUMBAR SPONDYLOSIS

It affects the lower back and is a pretty common form of spondylosis

MULTILEVEL SPONDYLOSIS

This type of spondylosis affects more than one particular region of the spine.

how can we help?

Portea understands that mobility issues are a significant challenge for individuals suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis. To ease this burden, we specialize in providing high-quality ankylosing spondylitis treatment right in the comfort of your home. Our experienced physiotherapists in Ankylosing Spondylitis not only demonstrate the appropriate exercises but also closely monitor and assist patients in performing them, ensuring effective treatment and support These professionals are adept at demonstrating and guiding patients through specialized exercises for ankylosing spondylitis physiotherapy. 

With Portea, you’re not just getting a service ; you’re gaining a partner in your journey to recovery and well-being. We also offer a range of superior healthcare services, including doctor consultations, medical equipment, nursing home care, and dedicated caretakers. Rely on us for top-tier healthcare solutions tailored to your requirements.

physiotherapists for ankylosing spondylitis

  • Dr.Ranjith Kumar.A – MPT – 15 years experiences
  • Dr.Anayat Ullah Sheikh – BPT – 8 years experiences
  • Dr.Ganta Aravind – BPT – 7 years experiences
  • Nidhi Bhalla- MPT- 6 Years Experiences

faqs

How serious is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a serious condition, as it can lead to chronic pain, significant spine stiffness, and decreased mobility. Over time, it may cause spine deformities and potentially impact other organs, such as the eyes, heart, and lungs, leading to further health complications if not adequately managed.

What is the recovery time for ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition with no definitive cure, so the concept of ‘recovery time’ isn’t applicable. However, with appropriate treatment, including medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle adjustments, symptoms can be managed effectively, leading to periods of reduced pain and improved mobility, though flare-ups may occur.

Can exercise reverse ankylosing spondylitis?

Exercise cannot reverse ankylosing spondylitis, as it is a chronic condition. However, regular exercise plays a crucial role in managing symptoms. It helps maintain joint flexibility, improve posture, reduce pain, and enhance overall physical function. Tailored exercises are essential for slowing disease progression and maintaining quality of life.

What is the best diet for ankylosing spondylitis?

The best diet for Ankylosing Spondylitis emphasizes anti-inflammatory foods: omega-3-rich fish, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like olive oil. It’s advisable to limit processed foods, red meat, and refined sugars, which can increase inflammation. Hydration and balanced nutrition are key components.

What activities should be avoided with ankylosing spondylitis?

Individuals with ankylosing spondylitis should avoid high-impact activities that strain the spine, like heavy lifting and contact sports. Prolonged periods of inactivity or sitting in one position can also exacerbate symptoms. It’s important to focus on low-impact, spine-friendly exercises such as swimming, walking, or yoga.

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