What is ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of progressive arthritis due to chronic inflammation of the joints in the spine. Its name comes from the Greek words “ankylos,” meaning stiffening of a joint, and “spondylo,” meaning vertebra. Spondylitis refers to inflammation of the spine or one or more of the adjacent structures of the vertebrae. The hallmark of ankylosing spondylitis is “sacroiliitis,” or inflammation of the
sacroiliac (SI) joints, where the spine joins the pelvis. Although many people with AS have mild episodes of back pain that come and go, others have severe, ongoing pain accompanied by loss of flexibility of the spine. In the most severe cases, long-term inflammation leads
to calcification that causes two or more bones of the spine to fuse. Fusion can also stiffen the rib cage, resulting in restricted lung capacity and function.
How is ankylosing spondylitis (AS) diagnosed?
1. Medical history: family history and back pain characteristic to rule out mechanical back pain. AS is due to inflammation of the joints in the spine, which is different from mechanical bac pain or back pain cause by in injuries. Click here for self-screening inflammatory back pain questionnaires.
2. Physical examination to look for signs and symptoms of AS, and to check the flexibility of your spine
3. Radiologic test such as X-ray or MRI
4. Lab test to check for inflammation markers and HLA-B27 gene.
What type of doctor treats ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?
The diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is often made by a rheumatologist, a doctor specially trained to diagnose and treat arthritis
and related conditions of the musculoskeletal system. However, because ankylosing spondylitis can affect different parts of the body, a
person with the disorder may need to see several different types of doctors for treatment.
“In the fight against AS, early detection and powerful new drugs are at the forefront. So being aware and informed about the condition
are the keys to management and recovery” -Consultant Rheumatologist Assc. Prof. Dr Sargunan Sockalingam [read more]
“If not treated promptly, irreversible structural damage may set in, causing restriction in movement and quality of life impairment in
ankylosing spondylitis patients”- Consultant Rheumatologist, Dr Amir Azlan Zain [read more]