Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory, degenerative condition that causes spinal joints and bones to fuse, reducing mobility and affecting various processes. Ankylosing spondylitis may also impact the rib cage and cause breathing difficulty and other complications. You’ll need effective pain management services if you’re diagnosed with AS. Treatment focuses on slowing down the progression.

What Are the Main Risk Factors of Ankylosing Spondylitis?

The exact causes of ankylosing spondylitis are unknown, but the condition has distinct symptoms. AS is primarily linked to the HLA-B27 inheritable gene. The condition is a type of arthritis that causes some spinal bones to fuse over time. Fusion reduces the spine’s flexibility and results in a hunched position.

The condition can affect the joint between your pelvis and the base of your spine. AS also affects the vertebrae in your lower back. Some people suffer the fusion in the cartilage between the ribs and breastbone or the hip and shoulder joints. The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can show up during early adulthood.

The condition has no cure and worsens if not addressed. But, seeking treatment for ankylosing spondylitis early can slow down its progression and alleviate the symptoms.  Here are the two top risk factors:

1. HLA-B27 Gene

Researchers connect ankylosing spondylitis to the human leukocyte antigen B27 gene (HLA-B27). One study showed that 9+ out of 10 people with AS carry the particular gene. Still, having the HLA-B27 gene doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop ankylosing spondylitis. About eight in 100 people carry the gene, but most don’t have the condition. Since more people with AS carry the gene, having HLA-B27 may make you vulnerable to developing the condition.

Environmental factors may trigger ankylosing spondylitis, but doctors are yet to determine the specific causes. If you experience the known symptoms of AS, you can seek testing for the gene. The gene test isn’t a conclusive diagnosis for ankylosing spondylitis since some people carry the gene without AS. Your physician will complete other diagnoses to determine if AS is the reason for your symptoms. Diagnosis starts at any age, from early adulthood. Common tests include:

  • Family history review
    • Physical examination
    • Blood test
    • X-rays and MRIs

2. Injury & Disease

Ankylosing spondylitis can cause inflammation in the spine and surrounding areas. Your body may react to the inflammation by depositing extra calcium around the affected bones. The excess calcium may cause some bones to link up and fuse, causing stiffness and inflexibility. Injury to the vertebrae and spinal joints can cause pain, inflammation, and immune responses. If you’ve suffered an injury to your spine, seek professional medical assistance promptly.

Untreated injuries and accidents can still be recovered from but at a debilitating cost. Your body will fight back pain, inflammation, and injuries by reinforcing the region. Diseases may also weaken your bones and joints, leaving you vulnerable to strains and injuries. Anything that puts external stress on your spinal area can result in changes that spur ankylosing spondylitis. Environmental factors, sedentary lifestyles, and poor posture may all have a role to play in AS.

Can Ankylosing Spondylitis Be Inherited?

Ankylosing spondylitis can run in families because the HLA-B27 gene can pass down to children and grandchildren. Most people with the gene never develop the condition, but the majority of those with AS carry the HLA-B27 gene. If you have ankylosing spondylitis and carry the HLA-B27 gene, there’s a high chance you could pass the gene to your children.

Genes may fail to manifest in some people only to reappear in their offspring. If you have more risk factors and see early signs of AS, seek early diagnosis and management.

Pain Management Services for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition, meaning no complete cure is available. Rheumatologists and other doctors use a combination of medication and physical therapies to alleviate the primary symptoms. Your doctor will also create a treatment plan to help slow the condition’s progression. The best way to deal with AS is through effective symptom management.

Choose reputable healthcare centers that treat spondylitis and other spine and joint conditions. You can leverage pain management services from experienced consultants to help alleviate the discomfort with AS. Choose consultants that specialize in treating and managing chronic pain.