Moderate to severe ankylosing spondylitis

What is Moderate to Severe Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Moderate to severe ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a progressive form of the chronic inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine. It is a type of spondyloarthritis (SpA), which are inflammatory conditions that can affect the spine and other joints. Like other forms of arthritis, AS causes pain, stiffness, reduced mobility, fatigue, and inflammation. The inflammation of AS is caused by a faulty immune system response.

AS can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms and progression can vary widely from person to person. Over time, AS can cause bones and joints to become fused together, which can cause permanent disability in severe cases.

Signs and Symptoms of Moderate to Severe Ankylosing Spondylitis

The most common symptoms of moderate to severe AS include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back, hips, thighs, neck, and shoulders
  • Pain that can be worse in the morning, and may ease during activity
  • Poor posture and limited mobility of the spine
  • Stooped or hunched posture
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss

In some cases, AS can also cause inflammation in other joints, such as the shoulders, hips, and knees. Additionally, signs of moderate to severe AS may include joint deformities such as fusion of the spine, called ankylosis, as well as joint damage and sacroiliitis, inflammation of the sacroiliac joint.

Treatments for Moderate to Severe Ankylosing Spondylitis

The main goal of treating moderate to severe AS is to reduce inflammation and control associated pain. Treatment plans are tailored to the individual, and typically involve a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications.

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen; immunosuppressants, such as biologics and sulfasalazine; and steroids may all be used to reduce pain and inflammation caused by moderate to severe AS.
  • Physical therapy: Regular stretching, exercise, and physical therapy can help improve flexibility and range of motion.
  • Diet and nutrition: Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for reducing inflammation and controlling weight.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended. This may include joint replacement surgery to replace damaged joints, and spinal fusion surgery to stabilize the spine.

It is important that people with moderate to severe AS work closely with their healthcare providers to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets their needs.