Ankylosing Spondylitis – FAQ

Q-1. What is Ankylosing Spondylitis and what are the symptoms of this disease?
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and other related spondyloarthritis are a group of arthritis that mainly affects the back and joints of lower limbs like knees and Ankle. Typical symptoms of AS include: lower back, buttocks or neck pain and stiffness in the morning which wears off during the day or with activity along with feeling of tiredness or fatigue. Few patients may have pain and swelling in joints other than those in the spine, heels and or inflammation in the eyes.

Q-2. How is ankylosing spondylitis diagnosed?
Ans. There’s no specific test for ankylosing spondylitis. Your doctor will base the diagnosis on your symptoms and how they developed along with clinical examination. If required, doctors may order few blood tests, X-rays or CT / MRI scans. X-rays can show changes in the spine as the condition develops but aren’t always helpful in the early stages so magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are often used in early cases instead.

Q-3. What are the treatment options for Ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases?
Ans. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs) offer symptom relief for most patients by reducing pain and swelling. Other medicines called anti-TNF drugs or TNF blockers are effective in patients who do not respond enough to NSAIDs. Some drugs like Sulfasalazine, Methotrexate, Leflunomide, apremilast etc are beneficial for patients with peripheral arthritis. Newer treatments have helped a great deal in controlling symptoms, and frequent fitness activities and back exercises are helpful.

Q-4. What are the things which can be done to improve disease outcome?
Ans. It’s important to stay active when you have ankylosing spondylitis and related arthritis. Regular exercising will help ease stiffness and stop your muscles becoming weak. Swimming, cycling, Yoga and walking are great options if you have ankylosing spondylitis.

Q-5. What kind of Diet and nutrition is good for patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ans. There are no particular foods have been found to make ankylosing spondylitis either better or worse. However, it’s sensible to eat a balanced diet and to keep to a healthy weight. Being overweight will increase the strain on your back and other joints.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D, which are important for the health of your bones, because people with ankylosing spondylitis have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Many diets have been recommended for people with ankylosing spondylitis, including avoiding certain food types.There’s no convincing evidence that these work, and there’s a chance that you may make your health worse by missing out essential nutrients. If you’re keen to try any of these diets it would be a good idea to discuss it with a dietitian or your doctor first.

Q-6. Can patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis have a normal life?
Ans. Although, patients with this disease have chronic pain, fatigue and stiffness, but still despite these symptoms, most patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis can lead productive lives and have a normal lifespan, especially with the newer treatments available.

There are things you can do to improve your health. Frequent exercise is essential to maintain joint and heart health. If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking aggravates Ankylosing Spondylitis and other related spondyloarthritis and can speed up the rate of spinal fusion.

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