Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease, wherein the bones of the spine fuse together and makes the spine less flexible. The person may have a hunched posture due to the fusing of the bones. The ribs are sometimes affected, making a person difficult to breathe. Men are more affected than women. The disease usually starts in early adulthood.
Ankylosing spondylitis presents in its early stages as pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips. The intensity of these symptoms is worse in the morning and after prolonged periods of inactivity.
Ankylosing spondylitis may affect any of the following areas causing pain and stiffness in the affected region.
- The joint between the spine and the pelvis
- The region where the ligaments and tendons attach to bones in the spine.
- Hip joints and shoulder joints
- The cartilage between the ribs and the breastbone
- The vertebrae in the lower region of the back.
There is no particular known cause of ankylosing spondylitis. It is believed to be caused due to genetic factors. Family history of ankylosing spondylitis is common in the patients. People who have a gene called HLA-B27 is at increased risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis.
The physical examinations that can be carried out in order to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis are:
- Bending the back in different directions
- Measuring the chest circumference with inspired air and after exhaling the air.
- Moving the legs in different positions to see where the pain is felt.
- Applying pressure on the specific portions of the pelvis in order to check if the pain increases.
Other tests that can help in confirming the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis are:
- Xray: to check for any changes in the bones and joints. Do not show any changes in the early stages.
- MRI and CT scan: provide more detailed images of the bones and soft tissues. Helpful to detect the changes in early stages of the disease.
- Mild exercises to keep the spine moving and ease the stiffness caused due to the disease.
- Maintaining a healthy weight will lessen the pressure caused on the spine.
- Pain as if sprained, can scarcely rise
- Pain between the shoulder blades causing difficulty in breathing
- Weakness in the small of the back with rheumatism in the lumbar region
- Curvature of dorsal vertebrae
- Nape of the neck is stiff and rigid
- Soft bones which bend easily; curvatures of long bones
- Bones develop slowly and irregularly
- Rheumatic pain and stiffness of the neck with dullness in the head from slight draught of air
- Cramp like pains in the neck first on the right side than the left
- Throbbing or jerking pains below scapula
- Violent pain in the region of the back during least effort
- Sharp pain in sacrum and coccyx
- Curvature and bending of the spine to the left
- Soreness in sacro-iliac symphysis as if broken
- Tension and cramp-like drawing in muscles of neck, especially on moving the head
- Boring pain between the scapulae
- Spondylitis of cervical vertebrae
- Burning pain in a spot, above small of the back
- Itching and fine stitches in the coccyx and sternum
- Crawling, tingling in the back and loins
- Suited to persons debilitated due to loss of vital fluids
- Swelling and rigidity of nape of the neck
- Paralyzed sensation in the upper sacral and lower lumbar vertebrae
- Contusive pains in the loins and back, especially after having been seated for a long time, hindering walking, rising up or making the least movement
- Sensitiveness of the spinous processes of dorsal vertebrae
- Pain in the small of the back while rising from a stooping position
- Heat and burning in the back between scapulae
- Pain in coccyx impeding easy motion, can find no comfortable position, followed by painful stiffness of nape.
- Coccyx painful to touch as from an ulcer.
- Stiffness in the neck with a headache
- Swelling of glands in the nape of the neck and axillae
- Caries of clavicle
- Stitches between the hips with painful coccyx, as after a long carriage ride
- Stinging in os coccyges on rising, painful to pressure
- Pain in the loins, which prevents rising up and forces the patient to keep lying down
- Weakness and paralytic stiffness in back, loins, and nape
- Tearings and shootings in the back
- Shootings in the loins, when seated or lying down