Beyond Back Pain: Warning Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis

7 minute read

With the stress of daily life and all of our responsibilities, back pain has generally been accepted to be a part of everyday life. While back pain can result from a pulled muscle or overexertion, there may be a deeper problem. Ankylosing spondylitis is a condition that affects millions and is classified as a form of arthritis that affects your spine.

Understanding the condition and what to look for is the only way to help you successfully relieve that pain.

How to Identify Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Unlike  other forms of arthritis, like osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis can strike at any age. The spine is the most common part of the body diagnosed with this condition, but you may also notice pain in your hips, shoulders, hands, and feet. Because of the degree with which symptoms and pain can vary among individuals, it’s essential to understand how to identify ankylosing spondylitis.

Once you determine the cause, you can explore the most beneficial treatment.

Unexplained Lower Back Pain

For the most part, back pains resulting from strain or trauma will get better with rest. With ankylosing spondylitis, back pain and stiffness are often worse after sleeping. Exercise also tends to make general back pain worse, but with spinal arthritis, exercise will lead to improvements.

If your back pain is atypical and unexplained, chances are you may have ankylosing spondylitis.

Unexplained Pain in the Body

If you are relatively young and have unexplained pain in your joints, heels, or chest, ankylosing spondylitis could be the culprit. Some people experience pain in these other areas before any lower back pain is identified.

Should you notice unexplained pain in these areas and rest does not alleviate the pain, consider ankylosing spondylitis as the cause.

Family History

There are specific genetic markers that increase the risk of ankylosing spondylitis. If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with arthritis-related inflammatory bowel disease, then you may want to bring this to your doctor's attention.

However, it's worth noting that not all people with the genetic marker develop the condition. Identifying the marker could help you stay ahead of the condition and begin preventative measures as needed.

Increasing Pain

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic and progressive condition, which means it gets worse as time goes by. The pain may come and go, but if it radiates up your spine and gets worse with each painful episode, you likely have identified the culprit.

It’s important to seek diagnosis and treatment right away; otherwise, the vertebrae in your spine can fuse, causing curving of the spine and a hunchbacked appearance.

NSAID Relief

In most cases of ankylosing spondylitis, NSAID medications bring relief. They do not alter the course of the condition, though, so pain will get worse with time. There are specific anti-inflammatory medications that help with the pain because they target the specific cytokines causing inflammation and pain. If prescribed these drugs, the development of the condition may be successfully delayed.

Along with learning the signs of ankylosing spondylitis, certain factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. Men are more at risk than women of developing the condition, although the reason is unclear. Your risk for the condition will also increase if you smoke.

As previously mentioned, irritable bowel disease has also been associated with ankylosing spondylitis. While the cause is unclear, the two conditions are related. If you have IBD, be aware that your risk for ankylosing spondylitis also increases.

Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis

Without proper treatment, ankylosing spondylitis can cause your spinal vertebrae to fuse, putting you at an increased risk for fractures and additional pain. There is no cure that can reverse the condition, but there are preventive treatments that can delay its progression.

The severity of the condition will vary from person to person. With a prescribed treatment program, balanced diet, regular exercise, and high-quality supplemental support, you can reduce pain in your spine and prevent ankylosing spondylitis from interfering with your life.

The supplements shown to produce positive results are omega-3s, calcium, and vitamin D.

Omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids contain a natural byproduct called resolvin, these work by turning off the inflammatory response in our tissue and joints. This means they work to reduce the inflammation that causes pain as well as protect your joints from damage and deterioration.

Studies have found that after regular use, omega-3 supplements minimize pain and stiffness and patients report reduced disease progression.  The omega-3 fatty acids found in krill oil supplements are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents.

Be sure to choose a high-quality supplement with clinically proven ingredients. This ensures that you will get more effective results than those typically provided by chondroitin and glucosamine, the two supplements commonly used to treat arthritis.

Calcium and vitamin D: Calcium is an essential mineral for bone strength, and vitamin D is necessary for ensuring calcium is adequately absorbed and used in the body. These two nutrients are ideal for anyone suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. By promoting overall bone strength, your spine is better able to resist inflammatory damage and degeneration.

Because ankylosing spondylitis increases bone brittleness and risk for fracture, these nutrients will protect you from any additional pain or problems.

| Related: How to Fight PMS Symptoms and Pain With Krill Oil |

The Bottom Line

As with all forms of arthritis, inflammation plays a major role in the progression and worsening of the condition. Ankylosing spondylitis is no different, and inflammatory markers are responsible for pain and stiffness in the lower spine.  

Finding a way to reduce inflammation is going to be one of the best moves you can make when it comes to treating ankylosing spondylitis.

The omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants found in krill oil can benefit overall joint health and reduce the severity of ankylosing spondylitis symptoms. There may not be a cure for the condition, but with regular supplementation and a healthy lifestyle, you can live comfortably with it and prevent pain from interfering with your life.

Know what to look for, and should you discover that you have ankylosing spondylitis, you can start a krill oil supplement and get back to living.

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