- People of any age can develop ankylosing spondylitis (AS), but it usually appears between the ages of 15 and 30 affecting men three times more often than women.
- AS is a type of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. In AS, the joints in the spine are damaged by multiple immune attacks, resulting in pain and stiffness in the back.
- AS can also cause pain and stiffness in other joints, such as the hips and shoulders. It can also cause inflammation of the tendons. Some of the common spots for inflammation are the back of the heels (Achilles tendonitis), underneath the bottoms of the feet (plantar fasciitis), on the outside of the hips (trochanteric bursitis) and along the breast bone (costochondritis).
- AS is a highly variable disease that causes very different symptoms. Some individuals may only experience episodes of mild back pain, while others will have severe chronic pain. Dysfunction occurs with stiffness of the spine affecting posture and daily activities.
- Flare ups of inflammation are the more common complaint and are reported to be the worst in the morning upon awakening.
- Like other autoimmune diseases AS has a gut component that is considered to be the center of disease activity. When the gut becomes compromised or leaky, inflammatory producing food particles, toxins, and microbes enter the blood stream and cause immune dysfunction and AS symptoms.
- Occupational therapy offers solutions for AS with stiffness reducing exercises, gut restorative activities, and inflammatory trigger identification tools.
The above information was compiled in part from the Arthritis Society of Canada webpage