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Ankylosing Spondylitis: Frequently Asked Questions

QWhat is Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)?

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is one of many forms of chronic inflammatory and degenerative arthritis, affecting the spine, in which patient may have painfulness of spine, stiffness and restricted mobility of the back.

QWhich joints are commonly affected in AS?

AS affects the joints between the vertebrae of the spine and the joint between the spine and the pelvis (sacro-iliac joint). It may also affect other joints of the body such as shoulders, knees, hips, etc. It may affect eyes and respiratory organs in some patients.

QI have been diagnosed as having AS, what should I know about Ankylosing Spondylitis and its treatment?

Every patient with AS should make a note of the following:

  • AS is a relatively difficult condition and it requires long term or may be life long treatment
  • There is a treatment for it and the disease can be kept under very good control
  • AS is a cause of back pain in adolescents and young adults
  • Tendency to develop AS is genetically inherited
  • The HLA-B27 gene can be detected in the blood of most (but not all) patients with AS
  • AS can also affect eyes, heart, lungs, and occasionally the kidneys
QWhat is HLA-B27 gene?

HLA-B27 is a perfectly normal gene found in 8% of the general population. The gene itself does not cause spondylitis, but people with HLA-B27 are more susceptible to getting spondylitis.

QWhat are the causes of AS?

The exact cause of AS is not understood. It is an autoimmune disease (like many others such as Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Thyroiditis, etc). Genetic factors are likely to be involved.

QWhat actually happens in AS?

The joints are initially inflamed and this may be followed by progressive stiffness and inflexibility. It eventually leads to the fusion of the spine, giving permanent painful stiffness of the back. It is often called bamboo spine, as the spine tends get stiff like a bamboo. In the background, there are immunological factors which play a role for such inflammatory changes.

QWhat are the symptoms of AS?

These include: painful stiffness of the lower back and hips which is often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Over a period of time, the pain and stiffness may progress up the spine and to other joints such as hips, shoulders, knees and feet. Reduced mobility may be noted by the patient and gradually he may notice difficulty in bending the spine. Features such as loss of appetite, fatigue, weight-loss, inflammation of the eyes (iritis) and of bowels.

QHow is AS diagnosed?
QCan AS cause any disability in me?

Mild, moderate or severe disability is experienced by most patients of AS, depending on the stage of disease. The severity of AS varies greatly from person to person, and not everyone will experience the most serious complications or have spinal fusion (stiffness of spine). If well managed, it is likely that ones AS remains under control.

QIs there any literature on AS?

Yes. For more information on AS, you can refer to our exclusive website: Cervical Spondylitis

QWhat is the conventional treatment for AS?

The conventional treatment of AS consists of

1) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's): They do not modify the course of the disease but just help in pain relief
2) Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD's) such as Methotrexate and Cyclosporine.
Read about the adverse effects of Methotrexate
3) Biological agents (Etanercept, Infliximab) these are Anti-TNF agents
4) Systematic corticosteroids are effective in the acute pain relief, but have potential long term side effects

These medicines basically act as Immunosuppressant.

5) Physical therapy is of invaluable importance
6) Reconstructive surgery is required in selective cases with end stage joint destruction

QWhat are the other disease conditions related to AS?

Patients are also evaluated for symptoms and signs of other related spondyloarthropathies, such as psoriasis, venereal disease or dysentery (reactive arthritis or Reiter's disease), and inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease).

Please click here to read more

QMy father has AS and I am tested positive for the HLA-B27, then what are my chances of getting AS?

If a family member has AS and you test positive for the HLA-B27 gene, your chance of getting the disease increases to 20%, if you are under age 40. If you are over 40, your chance of developing AS is very low.

QIf I have AS, will I inherit the same disease to my child?

If you have AS, the likelihood of passing it on to your children is relatively low. There is approximately a 50% chance that the child of one HLA-B27+ parent will inherit the gene, but only a small percentage of those will develop AS.

QWhat are the risk factors for AS?

Male aged less than 40 years, HLAB27 + gene (2 %), family history of AS.

QWhat is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine originated in Germany. It works wonders for chronic diseases including AS.

QWhy do you suggest Homeopathy for AS?

AS is a deep seated immunological disease, which requires treatment at a deeper level. The conventional treatment alone is not enough in most cases. Added homeopathic medication is strongly suggested for better control and long term management in terms of:

  • Long term pain relief
  • Improved mobility
  • Reducing dependency on other medicines
QIf I am on conventional treatment, can I still start with Homeopathy?

Yes. In fact, most cases of AS who are on the conventional therapy are likely to require homeopathic medication.

QDo they interact with conventional medicines?

No. Homeopathic medicines can be safely taken with the conventional medicines.

QIf I am on some other medications such as drugs for diabetes, hypertension, etc; do I have to stop them while on Homeopathy?

No. You can continue all other medicines for other diseases if you start with homeopathy. Homeopathy does not adversely interact with the conventional medicines.

QWhen do I start seeing improvement after starting Homeopathic medicine?

Depending on the extent and severity of ones AS, one may observe some improvement in about six to eight weeks. However, the course of treatment takes over year to have better control over the disease.

QCan I continue with Physiotherapy for AS?

Yes. Physical treatment through appropriate exercises for improving mobility and joint pain provide lasting relief. Physical therapy and exercise, along with medication, are the mainstay of therapy.

QCan my conventional medicines be stopped?

To start with, your conventional medicines may need to be continued. Over the period of time, it is expected that you are able to reduce and also (possibly) stop other medicines, once you respond positively to homeopathic treatment.

QWhat is the success rate in treating AS with Homeopathy?

At Life Force, we have treated and documented over 100 cases of AS with significant success rate. Based on this experience and success, we recommended homeopathy during every stage of AS; earlier the better.

QHow much time does Homeopathy take to cure AS?

The length of treatment depends on the factors such extent, stage and severity of the joint pain. Most patients are treated for one to two years or more.

For other Online Treatment related Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.