You’ve experienced a normal amount of back pain and discomfort in the spine before.
But lately, you just feel like the pain has gotten out of control. What’s more, you also don’t feel as though it’s getting any better. In fact, it just seems to be getting worse, even spreading up the spine.
You’re starting to wonder if you’re displaying the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis.
But what exactly is AS, and what are the types of pain and additional symptoms you need to watch out for? Most of all, what are your treatment options?
Keep on reading this post to find out.
What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Before we get into the most prominent symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis, let’s make sure that you understand what it is.
In brief, Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic form of arthritis in the spine (in some cases, this arthritis can also impact other joints in your body.) It’s best defined as a continual inflammation within your vertebrae.
If left untreated — or if you simply have a more difficult case — this pain can develop into ankylosis. This means that new bone formations begin in your spine. Over time, affected portions of the spine could become immobile as a result.
In particular, the sacroiliac joints in the base of your spine, which connects it to the pelvis, are seriously affected by AS.
Unfortunately, the causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis aren’t fully known.
Many professionals believe that cases of AS are caused by genetics. If your body produces the protein HLA-B27, you’re more likely to get AS. However having this genetic marker is not a requirement, nor is it a guarantee that you’ll get AS.
There are also hypotheses that see a connection between prolonged bacterial infections and AS.
Finally, it’s important to note that AS happens more frequently — and begins earlier in life — to men.
Now, let’s take a look at the most common AS symptoms.
1. Intense Pain
First, it’s important to stress that Ankylosing Spondylitis pain is vastly different from your random, or even more frequent, back pain.
It’s not something that happens as a result of moving heavy boxes, straining yourself, or any other easily explainable activity. It’s also much more intense and disruptive than more common back pains.
The pain will often start in your lower back and even the buttocks. It may start off somewhat manageable — and many people assume it will go away on its own.
You may soon notice that the pain even seems to be alternating sides, when in the past you only felt discomfort on one side.
The pain eventually becomes chronic. It likely even begins to spread all the way up to your neck. In some cases, you even feel it in your heels.
Resting also won’t help the pain — in fact, it may even make it worse. However, you do notice that, when you move around, you get at least a temporary relief from this pain.
2. Poor Posture
Poor posture certainly isn’t uncommon in today’s world. After all, we spend much of our time hunched over smartphones or on the computer.
But continued poor posture — even after an attempt to make a correction — is one of the surprising symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis. You may notice that you just can’t seem to improve your bent-over, hunched posture.
In some cases, the opposite may even be true.
Have you noticed that your spine’s normal curvature seems to be disappearing? While at first, you might have thought your posture was improving, now, your spine feels almost too straight.
You often feel sensations of stiffness, and though you long to stretch and move your spine, it just feels impossible.
You’ve even noticed that your posture makes it hard for you to take deep, calming breaths. And when you can, it’s extremely painful.
Sudden changes in your posture are one of the most common early signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis. See a medical professional as soon as you can.
3. Eye Pain and Strain
You’ve always had excellent eyesight.
You’ve never had to strain to read signs or emails at your computer, and you’ve never worn glasses or contact lenses.
But lately, that’s all seemed to change. You notice that your eyes are much more sensitive to light than they’ve been in the past. In fact, if you enter into a room that’s too bright, you eventually start getting a headache.
Sometimes, those headaches can be quite severe.
Additionally, you’ve realized that your eyes have been much redder than normal in the past few months. You’ve noticed that, after reading or even going about your normal activities, you experience eye pain.
Your eyes even seem to be swelling up, and you’re dealing with watery eyes more frequently than ever before.
This is one of the symptoms of AS — not an issue with your eyesight as a whole.
Treating the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis
We know that recognizing some of the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis in yourself can be quite intimidating.
If you suspect that you may have AS, then it’s important to meet with a medical professional as soon as you can. They’ll conduct imaging tests, like MRIs and x-rays, and they’ll even examine how well you’re able to move your spine.
In some cases, you may be prescribed NSAIDs for pain management. You may also be but on TNF blockers to reduce swelling in the joints.
You may also need physical therapy. In some cases, you might consider surgery.
No matter what your AS treatment options are, we want to help you get the best care available. Spend some time on our website to learn how we can help, and reach out to us to book your appointment.