Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists
Rheumatologists located in Plantation, FL
While arthritis in your joints is tough enough to deal with, when it attacks your spine, it can be downright life-altering. Such is the case with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that mainly targets your spine. At Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists, both Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela and Dr. Marilu Colon have extensive experience with this form of arthritis, helping their patients in Plantation, Florida, slow the progression of the condition and regain mobility. To learn more, call the office or use the online scheduling tool to book an appointment.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Q & A
What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis, or AS, is not a terribly common form of arthritis, affecting only one percent of the population in the United States. But for those who are diagnosed with the condition, the impact is far-reaching.
Like other forms of arthritis, AS causes inflammation in your joints, but in this case, the condition mostly affects your vertebrae. AS can involve other areas of your body, such as your shoulders, hips, ribs, hands, feet, and even your eyes, especially as it progresses, but your vertebrae are usually the first to succumb.
The exact cause of AS remains a mystery, but researchers have tied it to a specific genetic marker, the HLA-B27. That said, not everyone with this marker develops AS and those without the marker have also developed the condition.
AS strikes males more than females, at a rate of 3:1, especially in Caucasian populations. AS also comes on early in life, usually between the ages of 17 and 45.
What are the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
AS is a progressive disease and the common symptoms below are listed in the typical order of progression:
- Pain in your sacroiliac joint between your pelvis and your spine
- Pain in your lumbar spine, or low back
- Pain in the back of your heel
- Pain in the cartilage between your ribs and your breastbone
- Inflammation and pain in your shoulders and hips
One of the more frustrating aspects of AS is that your symptoms can come and go, with acute flare-ups followed by periods of remission.
What are the Most Common Complications of AS?
In severe cases of AS, your body fights back by creating more bone along your spine, which fuses your vertebrae together. Depending upon the extent of the fusion, you may experience problems in your rib cage, which lead to difficulty breathing.
Other complications include:
- Compression fractures in your vertebrae
- Eye inflammation, or uveitis
- Inflamed aorta
To avoid these complications, early intervention by the team at Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists is critical.
How is Ankylosing Spondylitis Treated?
There’s no cure for AS, but there’s much the doctors at Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists can do to slow the progression of your disease. Depending upon the stage of your AS, your rheumatologist may use one, or a combination, of the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Biologics to help reduce pain and stiffness
- Physical therapy
The key to managing your AS is to get an expert team of doctors who are familiar with the disease working on your behalf. To access such a team, call Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists, or use the online booking tool to schedule a consultation.