What are the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that primarily affects the spine, particularly the sacroiliac joints and the vertebrae. It can also involve other parts of the body. The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can vary in severity and may include:

  • Back Pain: Persistent and chronic pain and stiffness in the lower back, often starting in the sacroiliac joints and spreading up the spine.
  • Stiffness: Morning stiffness or stiffness after periods of inactivity, such as sitting for long periods, which tends to improve with movement and exercise.
  • Reduced Range of Motion: Decreased flexibility and range of motion in the spine, which can result in a stooped or hunched posture.
  • Pain in Other Joints: Ankylosing spondylitis can affect other joints, including the hips, shoulders, and knees, causing pain and reduced mobility.
  • Fatigue: Generalized fatigue and tiredness may be present, often due to chronic pain and inflammation.
  • Enthesitis: Inflammation of the entheses, which are the areas where tendons and ligaments attach to bones. This can lead to pain and swelling in the heels, Achilles tendons, or other areas.
  • Uveitis: Inflammation of the eye (anterior uveitis) can occur and may cause eye pain, redness, and light sensitivity.
  • Chest Pain: Inflammation of the joints between the ribs and the spine can lead to chest pain, which may worsen with deep breaths.
  • Difficulty Breathing: Rarely, severe ankylosing spondylitis can cause spinal deformities that affect the chest wall and lung function, leading to difficulty breathing.
  • Weight Loss: Unintentional weight loss may occur due to chronic inflammation and reduced appetite.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Ankylosing spondylitis is associated with conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which are types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

It’s important to note that ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition that tends to develop gradually. The severity and specific symptoms can vary from person to person. Early diagnosis and management are essential to help reduce pain, prevent joint damage, and maintain mobility. Treatment often includes medications to reduce inflammation and pain, as well as physical therapy and exercise to improve flexibility and strength. In some cases, surgical interventions may be considered to address severe joint damage or deformities. If you suspect you have ankylosing spondylitis or are experiencing symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for evaluation and appropriate management.

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