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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a form of chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joints are located in the low back where the sacrum (the bone directly above the tailbone) meets the iliac bones (bones on either side of the upper buttocks). Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Over time, chronic spinal inflammation (spondylitis) can lead to a complete cementing together (fusion) of the vertebrae, a process referred to as ankylosis. Ankylosis leads the immobility of the spine.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is also a medical condition that affects other joints and organs as well. These kind of diseases are classified as systematic diseases. It could result in arthritis in joints of the knees, elbows, fingers, wrists, ankles and toes. Moreover, it could also affect various vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

Listed below are some of the signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.

  • Inflammation of joints
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck and lower back, especially after periods of inactivity
  • Arthritis in the hips and shoulders may occur
  • Loss of spine mobility
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis

It is very difficult to accurately diagnose ankylosing spondylitis due the myriad of symptoms and overlapping symptoms with similar medical conditions. It often could take up to 8 – 14 years to accurately diagnose this medical condition and often this occurs when the spine is already fused together, which is the most identifiable characteristic. Often blood tests and X-rays would be taken.

Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis

There is no cure for this medical condition. However, medication could be taken to help alleviate the pain experienced due to the stiffness of joints. Surgery could be performed to restore the joints. Physical therapy could also be considered.

Our Services

There are more than 100 different types of rheumatic disorders. Our team works together to diagnose and treat the full spectrum of these disorders, including autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, as well as other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, gout and ankylosing spondylitis. Treatments for the various conditions may include lifestyle changes, medication and surgery. A/Prof Leong will tailor each treatment plan to effectively manage the condition in each patient.

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About Our Arthritis Specialist

A/Prof Leong Keng Hong is a senior consultant rheumatologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. He is the founder of the Osteoporosis Society (Singapore) (OSS), established in 1996, and served as its President until 2004. He also served as the Inaugural Chairman of the Chapter of Rheumatologists in the Academy of Medicine, Singapore from 2004-2007 and was delegated as Chairman until 2013.

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