Do you realize all the area’s affected by A.S.? You see it’s a full systemic disease which means it can affect every part of your body. While the spine and sacroiliac joints are the hallmark for the disease there are many more that can be involved. I think this calls for a checklist. I do love my lists!
Eyes– Iritis or Uveitis (Inflammation of the eye) is growing more common with A.S. It’s extremely painful and can be blinding if untreated. It can flare in moments and permanently damage in days. Spondylitis patients are to be checked every year but an onset can be so stealthy you have to be ready. We also get the joys of Chronic Dry Eye which is very painful. Put some sand mixed with lemon juice in your eye and you’ll be close. Please don’t ever assume you have this under control on your own. Be safe and go in. This is not something that can be reversed once the damage is done.
Heart- The chronic inflammation can even inflame our hearts. Heart blocks and valve leakage are on the list here. I personally at 27 was told my valves are not functioning properly due to inflammation. They then told me I needed to “get your disease under control”. I replied to this doctor with “easier said than done”. Some of these physicians that can’t fix it just pass it off as someone else’s problem but that is a different topic for a different day. Spondylitis patients should see a cardiologist every year here also. A study done on this showed that 40% of the time an AS patient fatality rested in the hands of a cardiovascular complication.
Neurological- This really shouldn’t need much explanation as you can imagine squeezing the spine and associated joints can lead to many issues in the nerves and life giving veins that run through them. Surgeries can be required to relieve the pressure but are risky and a last resort. Many suffer with significant nerve pain daily and I promise you have never experienced pain till you feel an angry nerve.
Kidneys/Liver- medications are extremely rough on these organs and must be monitored very carefully. I must have a full panel ran every six weeks to make sure things are within a certain range. You really begin to feel like a push pin at this point.
Plantar Fasciitis– Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation in the bottom of the foot, where it attaches the heel bone to the toes. Tendons are a BIG problem in Ankylosing Spondylitis as it likes to grab anything touching the bone everywhere in the body and fuse it at insertion. This can injure muscles, tendons, and ligaments and even tear them. Painful doesn’t even begin to describe it.
TMJ – Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders are a big problem. The TMJ is where the lower jaw attaches to the skull. Biting and chewing can really be difficult with this and it’s not easily treated!
IBD– This is a large group of diseases and stands for Irritable Bowel Disorder. Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis are two in the group that are common with Ankylosing Spondylitis. This disease causes inflammation in the digestive system. It can occur anywhere from the mouth to the…you know. The cause is unknown but like AS it’s indicated to be a genetic and environmental combination. Some of the common symptoms are; diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, loss of appetite and poor growth in children. Tears in the lining of the anus along with fistulas and abscess’s are some more serious results of the disease. Many of the medications are the same. Surgery is often a result. You can easily see how just this could significantly put a damper on plans in your life without the involvement of Ankylosing Spondylitis. I know several who have to battle this and let me tell you…..They are amazingly strong people!
I think I will stop there for now. If you think I missed any please add them in the comments below.