Ankylosing Spondylitis also known as Spondyloarthropathy, is a autoinflammatory disease which falls into the rheumatic disease category of seronegative spondyloarthropathies. Many also refer to it as a type of reactive arthritis and NOT osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease as with aging. People living with AS suffer as a result of having their innate immune systems 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 (NOT osteoarthritis). AS is not only a systemic disease, it is also progressive. Eventually leading to spine fusion, 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. Ankylosing Spondylitis can also cause inflammation of the eyes, leading to conjunctivitis, iritis and 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). There are many including myself, who have benefited from eating foods which are lower in starch. In addition, to reducing wheat-gluten and simple carbohydrate intake, in an effort to reduce overall body inflammation. (See The Positive Pear Articles: “Danger of Modern Day Wheat” & “Low-Starch (or) Low-Carb? One Helps to Manage HLA-B27 Related IBS“)
Approximately 2.7 million men, women & children worldwide have Ankylosing Spondylitis and this autoinflammatory disease effects many sufferers differently . I am living proof that this disease can also effect carriers of the AS gene, at any age . Though misdiagnosed for most of my life, I’ve actually 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. Throughout my lifetime, 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 “Happy, Healthy, Fit & Fab though Chronically Ill” with AS, Fibro & CFIDS. I eat well, by reducing my intake of inflammatory culprits such as dairy, gluten, sodium, carbs & starches. I also exercise & meditate daily. I 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 and professional experience in the health, wellness and fitness industries + years of research relating to my autoinflammatory 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.