Ankylosing spondylitis, also called Bechterew’s disease, is an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and large joints, which reduces the flexibility in the spine. More advanced cases of the disease can cause new bone formation in the spine, causing sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position. Early diagnosis and treatment helps control pain and stiffness and may reduce or prevent significant deformity.
Symptoms of the disease include pain and stiffness in the back, bone fusion, and also pain in the ligaments and tendons. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, and eye inflammation. In very rare situations people can develop lung and heart problems.
Ankylosing spondylitis is mostly found in people who have a family history. Most people affected with the disease carry the HLA-B27 gene.
For doctors to diagnose someone with ankylosing spondylitis a number of test and procedures are performed. Family history, and the patients medical history is reviewed. The doctor will perform a physical exam and look at all the symptoms a patient is having. X-rays will be performed as well measurements of the chest while breathing. Blood work is also ordered to help rule out any other possible diagnoses.
Although there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis there are a number of treatments to reduce the pain and discomfort brought on by the disease. The goal of treatment is to allow patient a life as normal as possible. The focus is to reduce pain and stiffness, and prevent deformity. Physical and Occupational therapy help the patient reduce the pain and maintain mobility function. Medications can help reduce the pain and stiffness. Doctors use a variety of medications such as NSAIDs, Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs, Biologics, and Steroid injections. If needed artificial joint replacement surgeries are an option for some joints affected by the disease.