This is an arthritic/inflammatory disease that results in vertebrae that fuse together. As you can imagine, it makes for less flexibility in the spine, and creates pain. Unlike what seems every other medical condition out there, this is more common in men than women (gasp). It is said to be for life, with varying degrees of remission and maintenance contingent on how proactive the afflicted person is.
Pain and stiffness. Mostly where it’s occurring in the spine. Symptoms are most notable in the mornings. There may also be a bulge or mass where AS is taking place- similar to other arthritic conditions. The pain is what mainly drives people to do something about this as is can be very painful, to the point it will wake the afflicted up in the night.
No one certain thing has been known to cause this. To be certain of this diagnosis, it is recommended that you get at least an X-ray, or more accurate, an MRI.
Onset is usually adolescence and early adulthood however I have seen this develop in older people too.
Interestingly, gut issues and perhaps gastric infections may trigger a disposition.
What Can You Do?
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but treatments can decrease your pain and lessen your symptoms. Western medicine can offer drugs, which if you are reading this, you are here hoping that there might be an additional hope or therapy. I would stress yoga and acupuncture. Yoga will maintain flexibility in the spine, the ligaments and other attachments. You don’t want to loose that. Acupuncture will help do the same, and additionally can reduce the inflammation, reduce the pain, and also manage blood flow to the area. This, and yoga, can help prevent further damage while decreases your symptoms. Sometimes it’s helpful to use topicals- specifically herbal ones loaded up with blood moving herbs like cinnamon and safflower. I am not a fan in any way of the topicals sold in standard American store shelves. I have not heard of them working effectively, and there are so many artificial chemicals in them it’s akin to just popping pills.
There are Chinese herbal patches which can be left on for several hours (and shower with) that can help, oils, salves.
Dietary recommendations could include heavily reducing if not omitting inflammatory foods, and this includes fried foods and sugar. There’s a lot more we could talk about there but that becomes nearly another subject. Sugar and fried foods are your big hitters. From there, for some people it’s also dairy. For others, it might also be gluten.
I am recently treating this in an older gentleman who had it for about a year before seeing me for acupuncture. It was the sole reason why he sought acupuncture as doctors could offer steroid injections. He didn’t comply too much with the dietary recommendations and didn’t do yoga, so we had to rely on acupuncture. It took a few months before we saw results but he’s 99% pain free now, and the pain doesn’t wake him in the night. This means he can sleep through the night- and just getting a good nights sleep alone is priceless in helping the body heal.