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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 systemic 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
  • Neck stiffness and lower back pain, 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

Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis is focused on relieving the pain and stiffness of the affected areas, as well as preserve their functions and mobility. Medications, along with exercise and a healthy diet, can keep or delay the condition from worsening.

Medication for Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can ease the inflammation, pain, and stiffness while preventing your body from creating inflammation-causing chemicals.
  • Other drugs may also be prescribed to ‘block’ the proteins that drive the abnormal immune reaction.

Physiotherapy & Surgery

In most cases, surgery is not necessary unless certain joints (e.g. hips or knees) are so seriously damaged as to warrant a joint replacement.

Physiotherapy is also recommended to aid your recovery and help regain maximum mobility. Besides pain relief, range-of-motion and stretching exercises have been proven to improve general strength and flexibility.

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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