Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine causing stiffness and making it harder to bend. The presence of the HLA-B27 gene increases the risk of developing AS as well as environmental factors such as exposure to certain infections, toxins, and pollutants; joint injuries; changes in the colon’s bacteria; and bowel inflammation. There are many medications that can treat AS such as Upadacitinib, Cimzia, Xeljanz, Stelara, Enbrel, Simponi, and Infliximab. Here are the early warning signs of ankylosing spondylitis that you should watch out for:
1. Back pain
The back pain caused by ankylosing spondylitis is often described as an ongoing, dull pain that feels like it’s coming from deep within the patient’s lower back or buttocks. This is because of the inflammation caused by AS. For relief, doctors recommend painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
Another early warning sign to look out for in those with ankylosing spondylitis is stiffness. The inflammation caused by AS can affect the pelvis, shoulders, hips and knees, and between the spine and ribs. Stiffness can be expected in these areas, especially in joints like the knees and in the spine. It is recommended that you exercise regularly to avoid stiffness or take NSAIDs to ease any pain and inflammation.
3. Neck pain
Another common early symptom of ankylosing spondylitis is neck pain. The neck pain caused by AS is usually noticed first thing in the morning, at night, or after the patient hasn’t moved for a while. Again NSAIDs can help ease inflammation and pain and other over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol can be taken to help as well.
One of the most common concerns among those with ankylosing spondylitis is fatigue. This is because fatigue can be difficult to manage and can affect your life and mood negatively. Fatigue can be caused by lack of sleep due to discomfort or from the inflammation using up your body’s energy stores. Doctors recommend that you exercise regularly to fight back against fatigue as exercise helps reduce pain and inflammation, helps you sleep better, and helps ease fatigue.
5. Appetite loss
Those with ankylosing spondylitis may suffer from appetite loss and therefore weight loss as a result of fever, fatigue, or inflammation. Unfortunately, the appetite loss caused by AS can increase other symptoms such as fatigue. To manage appetite loss caused by AS try eating small snacks or meals every few hours, eat a variety of foods to ensure you get the proper nutrition, and eat foods high in protein and calories.