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Ankylosing Spondylitis: Myths and facts

Park Hospital

Author: Park Hospital

Date: 11 May 2023

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory condition that affects spinal joints, mainly the lower back, pelvis and hip region. With a lack of understanding about this disease, approximately 70 percent of patients are either misdiagnosed or remain unaware of it. On world ankylosing spondylitis day, we look at the myths and facts pertaining to as and raise awareness about this condition. 

Myth: AS is restricted to back pain fact: this chronic condition causes significant back pain and spinal stiffness which limits a patients mobility. In some cases, as has a severe impact on the shoulders and if the pain is untreated for a prolonged period, it may create a loss of spinal function. In advanced cases, it can lead to a bamboo spine and spinal deformity. 

Myth: there is no treatment for as fact: there are many treatment options that a healthcare professional may consider depending on the patients health and severity of the condition. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids) are frequently used as the first line of therapy. They provide relief from pain and reduce inflammation. For severe disease conditions, disease-modifying anti- rheumatic drugs (dmards) or biologics may be prescribed to slow down the progression of the disease. Biologic therapy such as tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (tnfi) are one of the most effective options that doctors use to reduce the underlying inflammation and to halt spinal deformity and damage. 

Myth: AS can be managed by taking adequate rest fact: although taking enough rest along with regular exercise improves joint mobility, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to slow down the progression of the disease. Strengthening exercises can help improve posture and mobility while stretching and range-of-motion exercises can reduce pain, stiffness and fatigue, and improve flexibility. Hence, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, practising good posture, and getting enough rest along with effective therapy help improve the patients quality of life. However, early diagnosis along with newer treatment aids such as biologics and the use of small molecules provide better control of the disease and prevent further joint damage. Living with as can be challenging, but timely appropriate measures can manage symptoms and improve the quality of life. 

Disclaimer: issued in public interest for general awareness and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or for treatment/cure of any medical condition. The views expressed are independent opinions based on studies from authentic sources. Please consult your doctor/a registered medical practitioner before starting any treatment/medicine.

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