Reports state that back pain is one among the leading causes of missed work among people in different parts of the world. Back pain is caused due to different reasons and generally the cause is mechanical. This means that it is caused by trauma from a sudden strain caused to the spine. However, the important point to remember is that back pain can be a sign for a serious condition called as Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Let us get into some details about this condition:
What is AS?
As against normal back pain, AS is not caused due to sudden physical trauma to the spine. On the other hand, it is caused because of swelling in the vertebrae, which means bones in the spinal cord. This is why it is stated as a kind of spinal arthritis. Even though, intermittent stiffness and spinal pain are the most common signs of this condition, it can affect other joints as well and it can affect intestines and eyes too. When this disease advances, it will lead to abnormal bone growth and the resulting fusing of joints, which can lead to reduction in mobility. Now, let us getting into the warning signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis:
Warning signs to know:
When an individual experiences the following warning signs, it is better to seek medical help:
Worsening pain in lower back: Generally, people with normal back pain can get relief after taking some rest. On the other hand, when it comes to AS, the stiffness and pain will become worse when an individual continues to walk. Generally, people with normal back pain will feel the pain getting worse when they exercise, but patients with AS will get better relief with exercises. In the case of Ankylosing Spondylitis, the pain will be experienced in the sacroiliac joints, where the spine and the pelvic meet.
Family history of AS: Generally, there is no single test for diagnosing AS. The doctor will analyze the detailed history of the patient combined with physical examination. Also, the doctor might suggest imaging tests like CT scan, MRI Scan or X-Ray. Normally, X-ray will show up the disease only after it matures. But, when it comes to initial diagnosis, MRI is suggested by doctors. If any of your family members are diagnosed with AS or other conditions like psoriatic arthritis or joint pain with inflammatory bowel syndrome, there are great chances that you might have inherited genes, which may put you at greater risk of AS.
Unexplained heel, joint or chest pain: As against back pain, patients with AS may first experience pain in the heel or stiffness or pain in joints of ankles, wrists and other joints. In some patients, rib bones get affected. This may lead to tightness in the chest and there are chances that some patients will have difficulty in breathing. When you experience any of these conditions, it is better to consult your doctor.
The important point to remember is that Ankylosing Spondylitis is something more than back pain and it should be appropriate diagnosed and treated.