At Bristol Chiropractic Clinic we regularly asses patients who have lived with a stiff and aching back for some time, not realising there is an underlying cause for it. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is more common in young males and they usually notice stiffness and back pain for about an hour after getting out of bed in the morning as well as after sitting for long periods. Movement and stretching seems to reduce the problem. AS is an inflammatory condition that attacks the soft tissue and end of the bones in certain joints, causing fusion. Inflammation is dispersed by movement, which is why exercise gives symptomatic relief. It is diagnosed with an X Ray or MRI, looking at the sacroiliac joints (in the pelvis) as these are the first place bone thickening will occur and a blood test looking for HLA27, a factor found in some people with AS. Unfortunately these tests are not very accurate, as the factor is found in both people with and without AS, plus people with AS may still test negative for it.

If your chiropractor suspects you have AS they should refer you to your General Practitioner who may then create a referral to a rheumatologist.

There is currently no cure for AS. If it is mild then lifestyle treatments like exercise, a low inflammation diet, stress management, keeping well hydrated, stopping smoking, getting enough natural Vitamin D from sunlight or supplements and therapies such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, osteopathy and physiotherapy are helpful.

For more severe cases there are a range of medications available, that can be used alongside the above. From NSAIDS (anti-inflammatories), corticosteroids to Disease Modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics.

So, as you can see, it is not possible to cure Ankylosing Spondylitis, but changing your lifestyle by keeping fit, hydrated, positive and using treatments like chiropractic care can help you manage the symptoms and live a happy life.