Ankylosing Spondylitis also known as Spondyloarthropathy, is a form of auto-immune arthritis which falls into the rheumatic disease category of seronegative spondyloarthropathies. Many also refer to it as a type of reactive arthritis. People living with AS suffer as a result of having their immune system’s attack their spine and sacroiliac joints (SI joints). This results in chronic pain and inflammation, which also affects the peripheral joints, tendons & ligaments, including the heels (calcaneus), fingers & toes (dactylitis). AS sufferers can also have “flare-ups” in other areas of the body such as the chest wall, and any area where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone, also known as enthesitis or enthesopathy. Chronic inflammation can lead to bone spurs/calcification (osteophytes) also known as bony spur formation, bony outgrows and calcium deposits, which usually go undetected unless directly contributing to pain. Bone spurs can form in the heels, feet, neck, spine, shoulders, elbows, knees and fingers. Though the most troubling are found in the shoulders, spine (see radiculopathy & myelopathy) & heels, also known as heel spurs, which contribute to pain associated with plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis. Two conditions which are commonly associated with autoimmune arthritis. AS is not only a systemic disease it is also progressive, eventually leading to spine fusion, which is also referred to as “bamboo spine,” osteoporosis, and potentially forward curvature of the cervical spine known as kyphosis. However early diagnosis and treatment can slow disease progression. AS can also cause inflammation of the eyes, leading to conjunctivitis, iritis or uveitis with varying symptoms such as severe eye pain, redness, vision loss, floaters & photophobia. AS can also effect the lungs, heart & nerves of the spine contributing to conduction disturbances, aortitis, aortic incompetence, apical lung fibrosis, lesions of the lung apices and ectasia of the sacral nerve root sheaths. This disease can also effect the bowels, in the form of peripheral arthritis, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), most commonly Crohn’s Disease & ulcerative colitis. It is also suspected that HLA-B27 gene carriers are susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), due to Klebsiella overgrowth. Though the research surrounding this theory remains controversial, there are many including myself who have had great success by eating foods which are lower in starch. In addition to reducing carbohydrate intake, in an effort to reduce overall body inflammation. (See The Positive Pear Article: “Low-Starch (or) Low-Carb? One Helps to Manage HLA-B27 Related IBS“)
Approximately 2.7 million men, women & children worldwide have AS. Ankylosing Spondylitis effects many sufferers differently and I am living proof that this disease can also effect those who are susceptible to AS, at any age . Though misdiagnosed most of my life, I’ve had Ankylosing Spondylitis (Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis JAS (or) Juvenile Spondyloarthropathy JSpA) since the age of 8, when I experienced my first flare involving my knees and ankles. I’ve had periods of remission, alternating with periods of living with the active disease. This incredibly bumpy journey brings me to where I am today, currently living “Chronically, Happy, Healthy, Fit & Fab” with AS, Fibro & CFIDS. I eat well, avoiding or reducing my intake of inflammatory culprits such as dairy, gluten, sodium, carbs & starches. I also exercise daily, use food based supplements, including those which are depleted by chronic inflammation. I also utilize natural & alternative therapies to manage my symptoms. Most importantly I strive regularly to maintain a positive mental attitude. My efforts, successes, professional experience in the health, wellness and fitness industries + years of research relating to my auto-immune disease, and two syndromes invisible chronic illnesses, allow me to navigate symptoms naturally & holistically. This knowledge and experience is what I share here on The Positive Pear.
Spondylitis Association of America: What is Ankylosing Spondylitis, AS complications, UK Resource: National Ankylosing Spondylisits Society: What happens in Ankylosing Spondylitis?, Interesting Article on AS in the October 15, 2010 Rheumatology Nurse Newsletter, The Positive Pear Articles: Holistic Health & Whole Body Wellness for Ankylosing Spondylitis, Electrotherapy Natural Pain Management, Natural Stress Management Techniques, Low-Starch (or) Low-Carb? One Helps to Manage HLA-B27 Related IBS, Other interesting articles: New Genes Associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis, Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy (USpA), Can we stop progression of ankylosing spondylitis? Chronic Invisible Illness: Defined by The Positive Pear, Awareness: World AS Day May 5, 2012, World Autoimmune Arthritis Day (WAAD) May 20, 2012 & World Arthritis Day (WAD): October 12, 2012.