Arthritis is often associated with aging, yet ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that’s usually diagnosed in people younger than 40. In fact, 80% of all patients develop their first symptoms before the age of 30. Deep Dalal, MD, FACR, RhMSUS, at BW Arthritis & Rheumatology, PA, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating ankylosing spondylitis, helping patients slow down the disease progression so they can continue to live an active life. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Glen Burnie, Maryland, or use the online booking feature.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects your spine, gradually causing significant or complete loss of flexibility.
The condition typically begins in the sacroiliac joint, which is where the spine meets the hipbone. The inflammation spreads to joints in the spine. Over time, excess bone develops between vertebrae that fuses the bones together.
Ankylosing spondylitis may develop in your hips and shoulders. The disease can also affect the joints between the spine and ribs. As a result, chest movement and breathing become difficult.
The initial symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis typically start in early adulthood, but they can appear in older adults and children. The most common symptoms are low back and hip pain.
You’ll also experience stiffness and limited motion that are worse after sleeping or prolonged inactivity and improve with exercise. As the spine fuses, you may develop spinal curvature.
The inflammation caused by ankylosing spondylitis can affect other areas of your body. About 40% of all patients develop acute episodes of eye inflammation (uveitis), causing eye pain and sensitivity to light.
You’re also more likely to develop psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Although rare, ankylosing spondylitis may lead to complications in the lungs, heart, kidneys, and nervous system.
Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis takes a two-pronged approach: physical therapy and medications. Dr. Dalal develops a customized plan based on your symptoms and overall health, with the goal of relieving symptoms and slowing disease progression.
A structured program of exercise is vital to help stretch the spine, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility. Physical therapy can also help you maintain a normal posture.
A variety of medications are available to help relieve your pain, reduce inflammation, and improve your mobility. One group of medications called anti-TNF agents may slow down or stop the progression of ankylosing spondylitis.
While symptom severity and the rate of disease progression differ for each patient, everyone with ankylosing spondylitis benefits from getting early treatment. It’s especially important to start treatment before your spine begins to fuse.
If you experience persistent low back or hip pain, call BW Arthritis & Rheumatology or schedule an appointment online.