Ankylosing Spondylitis, A.S., is a common inflammatory disorder that causes significant back pain and stiffness.
The symptoms are very different than those of osteoarthritis, ‘O.A., or degenerative arthritis of the spine as it is commonly caused.
Dr. Isam Khan, Emeritus Rheumatologist of Cleveland Metro and renowned expert in Ankylosing Spondylitis developed this list of symptoms that are characteristic of AS. that differentiate it from the back pain of O.A
- lnsidious onset
- Pain at night with improvement upon getting up.
- Age at onset <40 years
- lmprovement with exercise
- No improvement with rest
Often A.S. is very difficult to diagnose and often debilitating.
X-rays do not show the inflammatory arthritic changes. The inflammatory changes are best visualized by MRI. A unique feature of ankylosing spondylitis is a genetic blood test referred to as HLA- B27. About 90 of patients with ankylosing spondylitis are positive for this blood test.
The treatment, as with other types of arthritis is individualized. Many patients have only partial relief with the anti-inflammatories and exercise.
The Good News is that for those who do not respond, Biologic Therapies have been shown to restore patients quality of life and often prevent future damage.