Is ankylosing spondylitis a progressive disease?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that can cause swelling and inflammation in the joints, including the joints that make up the spine. It is considered a progressive disease because symptoms may start out as mild but will continue to worsen as time goes by. Therefore, it is important to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of this condition so that you can receive treatment as early as possible.

Early symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis

In its early stages, ankylosing spondylitis may only cause minor symptoms that are hardly noticeable. In addition to mild back pain, patients may experience back stiffness, particularly in the morning when first waking up or after any extended period of inactivity. If left untreated, symptoms will progress and may include:

  • Spinal fusion. As ankylosing spondylitis continues to affect the joints in the spine, the vertebrae may begin to fuse together causing more severe symptoms.
  • More frequent back pain. This pain may become more severe or more frequent as the condition progresses.
  • Decreased range of motion. Because this condition affects the facet joints, which are largely responsible for providing us with flexibility, you may notice that certain motions, such as bending or twisting, are more difficult.

Complications related to advanced ankylosing spondylitis

If ankylosing spondylitis continues to go untreated, it may result in other complications. For example, the inflammation may spread to other nearby organs or joints. This can result in heart damage if the inflammation spreads to the heart or a higher risk of bone fractures or difficulty breathing if the inflammation spreads to the lungs, among other complications.

Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis

Although there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, there are a number of treatments available that can help slow the progression of the disease. Therefore, it is important to consult with a physician about treatment options as early as possible, before symptoms have progressed to a more advanced stage.

Laser Spine Institute does not provide treatment for spondylitis. However, our team can help you find conservative or surgical treatment options elsewhere.