Medical Devices

Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis

Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis

Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints and commonly occurs with age. In fact, almost all of us know someone who has been affected by arthritis.

Now, there are different types of arthritis. Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that affects the spine. In this condition, the bones in the spinal cord get fused. This leads to lowered flexibility of the spine as well as pain.

This article will take you through an overview of ankylosing spondylitis and explore its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis

Pain in the lower back is one of the first signs of ankylosing spondylitis. Patients might also experience a stiffening sensation in their back due to reduced flexibility of the spine. The condition can also lead to pain in the shoulders, hands, rib cage, buttocks, thighs, and feet.

Ankylosing spondylitis can cause pain after extended periods of inactivity. Patients might also experience some difficulty in taking deep breaths and notice that their joints have begun to swell.

If left untreated, ankylosing spondylitis can lead to further health complications such as weakness in the spine, trouble in controlling the bladder, eye inflammation, and enlargement of the aorta.

Ankylosing spondylitis causes and risk factors

Research is yet to point out the exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis. Some studies have proven a genetic link behind the development of this condition. Men also face a higher risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis as compared to women. Additionally, most cases of ankylosing spondylitis start in the teenage and young adulthood years.

Ankylosing spondylitis treatment

There is no known cure for ankylosing spondylitis. At present, treatment of the disease involves providing relief from pain and trying to prevent or delay the damage caused to the spine. Patients may respond differently to the same course of treatment, and the doctor will modify the course of medicine based on the patient’s need.

Ankylosing spondylitis is diagnosed through a series of tests that include a physical exam by the doctor and imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI. The patient may also be required to undergo certain blood tests.

The treatment for ankylosing spondylitis generally involves NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs are prescribed for treating the pain and inflammation experienced by the patients. Patients might also be prescribed other medicines for arthritis as per their case.

Physical therapy is also generally recommended to help with stiffness and improve flexibility. Patients are taught how to maintain the right posture and how to exercise as per their condition.

In some cases, surgery is advised. However, surgical intervention is quite rare and only done in case the joints have suffered severe damage.

Lifestyle tips

Incorporating certain healthy practices into one’s daily routine can greatly help in coping with ankylosing spondylitis. Here are a few lifestyle tips that have proven to be effective for patients of this arthritic condition –

  • Stop smoking: Smoking causes a range of health complications and can also worsen symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. It is best to quit this habit for overall wellbeing. Do seek professional help to stop smoking, if required.
  • Maintain the right weight: Being overweight is not good for health. Consider speaking to your doctor to find out your ideal weight as per your height and try to stick to it. Reducing excess weight can also provide much relief to your joints.
  • Exercise regularly: Even a few minutes of exercise daily is better than none at all. Try to practice the exercises taught by your physical therapist on a daily basis. Exercise can work wonders in improving and maintaining the flexibility of your joints.
  • Keep a good posture: Making a conscious effort to hold a good posture can also prove helpful if you have been affected by ankylosing spondylitis. Try to be aware of your posture when sitting and walking. You may use a mirror or even ask a family member to tell you if your posture is right.
  • Hot and cold packs: A hot pack can be applied to stiff joints, and a cold pack can help get relief from inflammation.

Spine surgery with the MERILOCK Spine Anterior Cervical Plate System

The MERILOCK spine anterior cervical plate system has multi-segmented titanium bone plates of various lengths and sizes, titanium bone screws in various lengths and diameters, and associated instrumentation. It gives spine surgeons an efficient and versatile operation. This system helps in temporarily stabilizing the anterior spine in cases of cervical spinal fusion. Meril continually strives to offer the latest in medical technology to alleviate human suffering for an improved quality of life.


Ankylosing spondylitis responds well to treatment that is carried out before joints are permanently damaged. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms of this condition, do reach out to your doctor immediately. An early diagnosis can greatly improve the quality of your life with arthritis.