There are a lot of joints in the body that can be affected and fuse under the abuse of Ankylosing Spondylitis. Here’s a list for you but keep in mind this is in no way an all-inclusive list. The jaw, neck, shoulders, ribs, spine (from the neck to the coccyx a.k.a. your butt), hips, wrist, fingers, knee, heel, toes, and the sacroiliac is a hallmark for A.S.
Fusion is the process that causes us pain every day on top of the damage already done. So what in the heck is fusion? Let’s break it down. Our immune system picks a fight with healthy tissue in our body then it tries to repair the tissue by building it back. This is what leads to bony growths. These bony growths can completely envelop a joint or just hang out pinching nerves and limiting mobility. For example my cervical spine (neck), is starting to show growth and I knew this before the doctor even told me thanks to the shooting pains from pinched nerves. My neck is not completely fused still, yet my mobility is often limited due to the inflammation and damage already done.
Some people take years to fully fuse or never do completely but some lucky few are flying through beating records for the doctors to awww over. Remember every person is effected differently with this disease.
This fusion can leave the spine in a bent posture. Imagine bending over to get the paper and never standing up straight again. Being fused in this position for the rest of life brings challenges and frustrations. One of my Spondy Friends that is fused told me he wishes he could see the stars. When you are bent stooped over looking up is not exactly feasible. Just trying to think of all the things they must miss being able to do makes me want to run outside and look up!
Fusion can happen in more places than the spine. The fusing in the rib cage is similar to wrapping yourself as tight as you can in ace wraps and jogging around the block. Can you catch your breath? Now think of the things you need to be able to move your joints in order to do. Open things, eat a meal, dress yourself, play with your children, nearly all hobbies, driving a vehicle, wipe your ‘u know’ and so on. What would you do?
It’s quite daunting I know, but amazingly this community takes it all in stride and continues to persevere! Remember you are not lazy or weak…you are some of the strongest people I know! Never forget the battles you have faced and conquered. My fused Spondy Family…you all inspire me in ways I never could have imagined.
The message on some awareness bracelets is “STAND TALL” for obvious reasons.
Stand tall today for someone else who can’t!