Ankylosing spondylitis causes inflammation of the vertebrae that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort that often comes in acute, painful episodes followed by temporary periods of remission.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that affects men more than women and can cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together. When the vertebrae fuse, it makes the spine less flexible and results in a hunched-forward posture. Signs and symptoms of this condition typically begin in early adulthood.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become affected by the condition, including shoulders, hips, ribs and heels, as well as the joints in hands and feet. When it affects the ribs, it may become difficult to breathe deeply. In rare cases, the eyes, heart, and lungs may also be affected by ankylosing spondylitis.
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but treatments can decrease your pain and lessen your symptoms.
The goal of treating ankylosing spondylitis is to relieve your pain and stiffness, and prevent or delay complications and spinal deformity. Ankylosing spondylitis treatment is most successful before the disease causes irreversible damage to your joints. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen and indomethacin, are the medications doctors most commonly use to relieve inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
Your doctor may suggest a physical therapist to provide you with specific exercises designed for your needs. Physical therapy provides patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis with a number of benefits, from pain relief to improved physical strength and flexibility. Range-of-motion and stretching exercises will help maintain flexibility and preserve good posture.