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Ankylosing spondylitis, what is it and how to treat? - Symptoms, treatment and complications

What it is? Ankylosing spondylitis is a pathological process of a chronic course during which articular tissue and internal organs are affected. Another name for this ailment is ankylosing spondylitis.

The exact causes of the development of ankylosing spondylitis have not been established, but doctors have identified a number of factors that can give impetus to ankylosing spondylitis:

  1. Reduced immunity, autoimmune diseases - the thymus gland begins to produce antibodies, which subsequently destroy the body's own cells;
  2. Genetic predisposition - if there were cases of ankylosing spondyloarthritis in the genus, then the disease is likely to be transmitted to descendants;
  3. Transferred infections (viral, bacterial, including sexually transmitted infections).


Ankylosing spondylitis, what is it and how to treat?

Ankylosing spondylitis

For a proper understanding of what is an ankylosing spondylitis and how to treat it, we consider the mechanism of the development of the disease, for this we delve a bit into anatomy.

The motor capacity of the spine is provided by intervertebral discs. Each vertebra has 2 pairs of processes - the lower and upper, with each other, the vertebrae are connected by means of the joints, from which the ligaments and muscles depart.

With the development of the disease in the articular tissue of the vertebrae, as well as in the intervertebral discs and tendons of the vertebral column, an inflammatory process begins. As the disease progresses, the affected tissues of the spine are replaced by connective tissue, which does not perform any functions in the body.

As a result of tissue replacement, the spinal column loses its physiological mobility and shape.

Depending on the location of the pathological process, there are several forms of ankylosing spondylitis:

  • Central - affects only the vertebrae;
  • Rhizomelic - pathological process extends to the pelvis and shoulder girdle;
  • Peripheral - the knee and foot joints are involved in the pathological process;
  • Scandinavian - the pathological process is localized in small joints, in particular the joints of the hands, which often leads to the formulation of an incorrect diagnosis - rheumatoid polyarthritis.

Symptoms and treatment methods depend on the form of the disease. Consider in detail.

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis in women and men in stages

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis

According to medical statistics, Bechterew's disease is more common in men than in women. Depending on the severity of clinical signs of pathology, the following stages of the disease are distinguished:

  1. Initial;
  2. Stage of clinical manifestations;
  3. The final one.

The first stage of the disease is characterized by the appearance of the following symptoms:

  • Stiffness in the spinal column, developing after awakening and long staying in the same posture that passes after performing gymnastic exercises;
  • Pain and discomfort in the sacrum, thigh joints;
  • Pain in the thoracic region in a circle, aggravated by coughing, deep breath;
  • Feeling of lack of air, pressure in the chest;
  • Rapid fatigue, decreased performance.

In the second stage of the disease, the clinical symptoms are as follows:

  • Pain in the back, which increases at night and with the slightest physical exertion;
  • Muscle pain - there are shooting sensations in the back, hips, which are caused by the pinching of the nerve roots.

In the advanced stage of ankylosing spondylitis, the following clinical symptoms occur:

  • Symptoms of infringement and inflammation of the nerve roots extending from the spinal cord - tingling in the back, impaired sensitivity, numbness, decreased muscle tone, muscle atrophy;
  • Violation of cerebral circulation as a result of infringement of blood vessels of the cervical spinal column with deformed vertebrae. The patient is disturbed by headaches, dizziness, ear congestion, irritability, decreased performance, drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, weakness;
  • Respiratory failure - develops as a result of insufficient mobility of the chest, pressure on the lungs, heart;
  • Jumps in blood pressure;
  • Deformation of posture - the patient has a "hump".

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis in women is important to differentiate with other diseases, since the clinical picture of some of them is similar, for example, pain in the pelvis can signal the development of symphysitis.

Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis

Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis

With the appearance of back pain, it is not recommended to engage in self-treatment of the disease, lost time allows the progression of the disease.

How to treat ankylosing spondylitis depends on the stage of development of the disease, because the first thing to do when visiting the clinic is a doctor will conduct a primary examination, collect a history of the patient’s life and illness. Then he will prescribe additional studies to accurately diagnose and differentiate spondylitis from polyarthritis.

Informative studies are radiography, CT scan, MRI , blood biochemistry (draws off on C-reactive protein, which appears in the body during inflammatory processes).

To assess the damage to the internal organs, an additional ultrasound scan is taken, a picture of the lungs if necessary, a cardiogram of the heart. Based on the results of the study, prescribe adequate treatment.

The prognosis for life in ankylosing spondylitis is favorable if the pathology was detected at the earliest stage of development.

Special physical exercises, physiotherapy treatments and massages can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life, but in general the disease is incurable and it is impossible to get rid of it completely.

  • During an exacerbation, to eliminate the signs of inflammation in the joints and pains, the patient is prescribed drugs from the group of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - Nurofen, Ibufen, Ibuprofen.
  • In severe cases, for the rapid removal of the exacerbation, it is advisable to prednisolone injection.

Prognosis for life in ankylosing spondylitis After the normalization of the general condition and the achievement of remission, a sanatorium-resort treatment was recommended for fixing the result to the patient.

In case of a malfunction of the internal organs as a result of the deformity of the spinal column, patients are given an operation aimed at straightening the spine. If necessary, endoprosthetics of the deformed joints are performed.

Complications of ankylosing spondyloarthritis are disorders of the internal organs, the development of muscle atrophy, immobilization of the spinal column.

Disability in ankylosing spondylitis is given to the patient in the event that he is practically unable to independently serve himself.

Which doctor to contact?

The diagnosis and treatment of ankylosing spondylarthritis are performed by specialists:

  • Therapist;
  • Vertebrologist - a doctor specializing in diseases of the vertebrae;
  • Orthopedist;
  • Rheumatologist.

Ankylosing spondylitis: ICD code 10

  • The ankylosing spondyloarthritis code for ICD 10 - M45.

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