Symptom: Ankylosing Spondylitis Medications

    Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that involves the spine, sacroiliac joints, and other joints such as the hips and shoulders. It is in a category of arthritis called spondyloarthropathy. Other spondyloarthropathies include reactive arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Men develop ankylosing spondylitis three times more often than women do. People with ankylosing spondylitis develop the disease prior to age 45. Symptoms include the following:
  • Frequent lower back pain
  • Back stiffness first thing in the morning or after a long rest period
  • Pain or tenderness of the ribs, shoulder blades, hips, thighs, and bony points along the spine
  • Pain and tenderness in joints other than the spine may accompany the condition
  • Eye pain, watery eyes, red eyes, blurred vision, and sensitivity to bright light (The disease sometimes affects the eyes and other organs.)
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    Nothing cures ankylosing spondylitis, but people with the disease can lessen their pain and maintain their mobility. Medications are commonly prescribed to decrease pain and inflammation that causes joint swelling and may contribute to pain. Exercise is one of the most important activities for maintaining and restoring joint mobility, decreasing pain, and strengthening muscles to improve posture. A healthy diet and adequate sleep are important. Heat or cold may help alleviate symptoms. Applying heat helps relax aching muscles and reduces joint pain and soreness. Applying cold helps decrease pain and joint swelling. Bending and lifting properly (with the knees rather than with the back) and carrying heavy objects close to the body, when necessary, protect the joints and maintain function. Other therapeutic measures include sleeping flat on the back on a firm, supportive mattress and using a pillow that properly supports the neck.


    The precise cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown. Many people with ankylosing spondylitis have other family members with the disease. A gene marker known as human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) type B27 (HLA-B27) is found by blood testing in most individuals with ankylosing spondylitis, while it is also found in a small percentage of the general population. This blood test can aid in the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis.


    Although AS predominantly affects the spine, it also can affect other joints such as the hips, the shoulders, and occasionally, other joints including the knees, ankles, feet, and hands. Ankylosing spondylitis may also affect other parts of the body besides the skeleton, such as the eyes, heart, and lungs. The prognosis is generally good, but long-term medications and physical therapy are needed to control pain and to maintain mobility.


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