CHENNAI: Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints (which connect the spine to the pelvis). It can also impact other joints such as the ankles, knees and neck, as well as cause inflammation of the entheses, which are connective tissues where tendons and ligaments attach to bone.
People with AS tend to have chronic lower back, pelvic, and hip pain that comes and goes; during a flare, it can feel significantly more intense and debilitating. Research indicates that flares in AS are very common and studies show that AS patients have about one flare a month where each flare lasts for about two weeks. These flare-ups can be localised or generalised. Localised AS flare-ups affect only one part of the body and generalised AS flare-ups tend to cause burning pain in several joints of the body.
Dr M Hema, Senior Consultant Rheumatologist at MIOT Hospitals says, “Depending on the type, AS causes flare-ups in the eyes, the joints, the skin, or the gut. These flare-ups could be triggered by infection, stress, alcoholism, diarrhoea or other uncontrolled diseases. While AS is a chronic disease that waxes and wanes, the duration of the flare-ups varies according to the underlying individual disease. AS can be controlled with adequate drugs and severe cases can be treated with biologicals and NSAIDs.”
Experts say that effective management requires adequate rest and a good night’s sleep. “Once the patient has been diagnosed with the condition, accurate treatment can help prevent worsening of symptoms and ease pain. Exercising is also beneficial. Treatment is the key to slow down the progression of the disease,” said Dr S Ramakrishnan, Senior Consultant Rheumatologist, Apollo Hospitals.