What are the main symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are different for every person, but typically begin as frequent pain in the lower back and/or neck, morning stiffness and limited range of motion. The most common symptom of AS is pain in the lower back. The pain can come and go, or remain constant. The pain and stiffness is usually worse in the morning than at night, and is usually dull and spread out as opposed to concentrated in a particular area. The pain becomes "chronic" when it affects both sides of your back and hips for at least three months. Over time, the joints between your rib cage and breastbone may become stiff and painful, making it difficult to take a deep breath. Other areas of your body may become stiff and painful including your shoulder blades, knees, ankles, and heels and small bones of your feet and hands. In severe cases, the spaces between the joints in your spine may become fused together. This may make it difficult to move or flex your spine.
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What other signs and symptoms may occur with ankylosing spondylitis?
Other symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis may include fatigue and tiredness. Some patients may find they have anxiety and depression, as a result of living with AS. Another common finding is arthritis of the hip and patients may find the pain can extend to the groin or buttocks and cause difficulty in walking. Often times the heel is involved in AS and a common point of inflammation resulting in Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the soles of the feet). Shoulder pain may be encountered and limit your range of motion. Rarely, AS can also cause serious complications involving the heart, lungs, and nervous system.
What kind of eye problems can occur in patients diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis?
Uveitis (inflammation of part of the eye) is the most common AS-related issue not affecting the joints. Anterior uveitis affects the colored part of the eye and causes pain in the eye, blurring of vision, and sensitivity to light. Eye medications are effective in treating uveitis due to AS.
Are there earlier onset, later onset, or variant onset forms of ankylosing spondylitis?
The onset of ankylosing spondylitis is different for each person, but first symptoms typically appear in late adolescence or early adulthood (ages 17-45), but can present in childhood or much later. Most people will display symptoms before the age of 30. AS is more common in men, but occurs in women as well.
- "Ankylosing Spondylitis." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.
What health problems should I look for in ankylosing spondylitis?
Individuals with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) may also experience bowel inflammation, including Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. About one third of individuals with AS will experience uveitis, or inflammation of the eyes. Signs of this inflammation include painful, watery, red eyes accompanied by blurry vision or sensitivity to light. Additionally, 2-10% of individuals with AS will experience cardiac issues, which may include aoritis, valvular disease, or cardiomyopathy.
What will make ankylosing spondylitis worse?
There is one risk factor that is the single most important risk factor for developing a more severe course of AS disease; smoking. If you smoke, please consult with your healthcare provider to devise a plan to help you stop smoking.
Are there any other diseases that look like ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis is a sub-type of a larger group of arthritis' called spondyloarthopathies. Other subtypes of this type of arthritis include psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis; arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease, and undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy. Oftentimes, these sub-types have similar symptoms, making ankylosing spondylitis hard to diagnose.
- "Spondyloarthropathy, Susceptibility to 1;SPDA1." Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. 9 Apr. 2015. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.
Is there a characteristic symptom or clinical feature of ankylosing spondylitis?
The hallmark feature of AS is the involvement of the sacroiliac (SI) joints, or hip joints. Sacroiliitis is the inflammation of the SI joint, and will cause erosion of the joint that can be seen on X-ray or MRI.