Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment in Metro Atlanta

Overview of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine and the sacroiliac joints, which connect the lower spine to the pelvis. AS can cause severe, chronic pain and discomfort, leading to the eventual fusion of the spine, resulting in a forward-stooped posture. This condition can also affect other joints and organs. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to managing symptoms and preventing severe complications. At Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia (ARG), we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ankylosing spondylitis to help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for our patients.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Chronic Back Pain and Stiffness: Especially in the lower back and hips, often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • Pain and Stiffness in Other Joints: Particularly in the shoulders, knees, and feet.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness and low energy levels.
  • Decreased Flexibility: Loss of spinal mobility and a forward-stooped posture in advanced cases.
  • Eye Inflammation: Redness and pain in the eyes, known as uveitis or iritis.
  • Enthesitis: Pain where tendons and ligaments attach to bones, commonly in the heels.
  • Chest Pain: Discomfort or pain in the chest, especially when breathing deeply.

Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Physical Examination: Conducted by a rheumatologist at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia to check for spinal and joint tenderness, reduced mobility, and posture changes.
  • Blood Tests:
    • HLA-B27 Test: Genetic marker often associated with ankylosing spondylitis.
    • C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR): Indicators of inflammation.
  • Imaging Tests:
    • X-rays: To detect changes in the spine and sacroiliac joints.
    • MRI: To provide detailed images of soft tissues and early signs of inflammation.
    • CT Scan: Occasionally used to assess the extent of joint damage.

Treatment Options for Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Medications:
    • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Corticosteroids: Fast-acting anti-inflammatory drugs for short-term use.
    • DMARDs: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to slow disease progression.
    • Biologic Agents: Targeted therapies that block specific pathways in the inflammatory process.
  • Therapies:
    • Physical Therapy: Exercises to improve posture, flexibility, and strength.
    • Occupational Therapy: Techniques to manage daily activities and protect joints.
    • Infusion Therapy: Administered in our in-house infusion suite for medications requiring intravenous delivery.
  • Lifestyle Changes:
    • Exercise: Regular, low-impact activities such as swimming and stretching exercises.
    • Posture Training: Techniques to maintain proper posture and prevent deformities.
    • Diet: A balanced diet to support overall health and reduce inflammation.
  • Surgical Options:
    • Joint Replacement Surgery: Replacing damaged joints with artificial ones.
    • Spinal Surgery: Procedures to correct severe spinal deformities or relieve nerve compression.

Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Managing Pain and Stiffness: Using medications, physical therapy, and regular exercise.
  • Improving Mobility and Posture: Engaging in specific exercises and posture training to maintain flexibility.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Keeping up with appointments to monitor disease progression and treatment efficacy.
  • Medication Adherence: Taking prescribed medications as directed to manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Frequently Asked Questions | Ankylosing Spondylitis

What causes ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disorder with an unknown exact cause. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors.

How is ankylosing spondylitis different from other types of arthritis?
Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints, while other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, typically affect peripheral joints.

Can lifestyle changes help manage ankylosing spondylitis symptoms?
Yes, maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular exercise, and following a balanced diet can help manage AS symptoms and improve joint health.

What are the common triggers for ankylosing spondylitis flares?
Common triggers include stress, infections, and physical trauma.

Is ankylosing spondylitis hereditary?
There is a genetic component to ankylosing spondylitis, particularly the HLA-B27 gene, but having a family member with AS does not guarantee that you will develop it.

What is the role of biologic agents in treating ankylosing spondylitis?
Biologic agents help reduce inflammation by targeting specific pathways in the immune system, providing relief from symptoms and slowing disease progression.

How can I manage fatigue associated with ankylosing spondylitis?
Managing fatigue involves balancing rest and activity, staying hydrated, eating a nutritious diet, and following your treatment plan.

Contact Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia

For comprehensive ankylosing spondylitis care, schedule an appointment with Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia. Call us at 404-255-5956 or use our online contact form. We proudly serve patients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond, providing expert care and personalized treatment plans.

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