Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis ?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints (the joints connecting the lower back to the pelvis). It is a chronic, progressive disease that causes inflammation in the joints and leads to fusion of the spine, resulting in stiffness and a decrease in mobility. The symptoms of AS can include low back pain, stiffness, and fatigue, as well as discomfort in other joints such as the hips, knees, or heels. In some cases, AS can also cause inflammation in the eyes (iritis), lungs (pleuritis), or heart (pericarditis). The exact cause of AS is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

What are The Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis ?

The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is not known, but it is thought to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

  1. Genetics: AS has a strong hereditary component, and people with a family history of the disease are at a higher risk of developing it. A specific gene, known as HLA-B27, has been linked to increased risk for AS.
  2. Immune system: AS is considered an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body.
  3. Environmental factors: Some environmental factors, such as infection with certain bacteria, may trigger the development of AS in people who have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

It’s important to note that not everyone who has the genetic risk factor for AS will develop the disease, and some people may develop AS without having any known risk factors. The exact cause of AS is still not fully understood and more research is needed to determine all the factors that contribute to the development of this condition.


How to Diagnose Ankylosing Spondylitis ?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms may resemble those of other conditions, such as osteoarthritis or a spinal injury. The following steps are typically involved in diagnosing AS:

  1. Medical history review: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, including the location and duration of your pain, as well as any factors that make your pain worse.
  2. Physical examination: Your doctor will perform a physical examination to assess your posture, flexibility, and range of motion. They may also perform a series of tests to check for stiffness and pain in your spine and other joints.
  3. Imaging tests: Your doctor may order X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to check for changes in the bones and joints that are characteristic of AS.
  4. Blood tests: Your doctor may order blood tests to check for the presence of the HLA-B27 gene, which is associated with increased risk for AS.
  5. Diagnostic criteria: Your doctor may use diagnostic criteria, such as the modified New York criteria or the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) criteria, to help diagnose AS.

It is important to see a doctor if you experience persistent back pain, as early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent progression of the disease.

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