There are many different types of arthritis – generally defined as inflammation of joints due to metabolic or infectious causes. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which occurs mainly in people over 40. The second most common type, which occurs more often in women than in men and may strike at any age, is rheumatoid arthritis. This type is also considered potentially the most serious of all the various types of arthritis. Another type of arthritis – juvenile chronic arthritis – affects children below the age of 16.
One type of arthritis, which is said to be the third most common type of arthritis in some countries, occurs mostly in young men in the late teens to early thirties age bracket. This type of arthritis is called ankylosing spondylitis. Considered an inflammatory disorder of the spine, ankylosing spondylitis can often be overlooked.
A young man’s susceptibility to ankylosing spondylitis may be hereditary, much like that in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. The only difference is that a young man suffering from ankylosing spondylitis is seronegative, that is, he does not carry the rheumatoid factor in his blood. One of the possible triggers of this spinal disease is bowel infection.
The onset of ankylosing spondylitis is marked with inflammation of the connective tissues that bind the vertebrae together; the inflammation causes diminution in spinal mobility. In some cases of this type of arthritis, the joints in the arms and legs may be affected. The inflamed connective tissues may cause the spine to become permanently stiff as a result of their having calcified or hardened. In greatly-developed cases of ankylosing spondylitis, such as those in which treatment has been delayed, the entire spine may become fixed in a characteristic forward-and-downward bent position.
Solicitous lifelong supervision is required in all cases of ankylosing spondylitis. This is necessary in order that flexibility is maintained and structural deformity minimized. The chief medications for this type of arthritis are the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (example, Advil) and acetylsalicylic acid (example, Anacin), while prescription NSAIDs include naproxen sodium (example, Aleve) and ketoprofen (example, Oruvail).
To stretch the spine as well as the muscles supporting it and to better overall posture, physiotherapy can help a great deal. In severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis, the doctor may, if necessary, prescribe more powerful medications (such as steroids) that require his careful monitoring; he may also recommend radiotherapy to treat the condition.
1. “Ankylosing Spondylitis”, on MedicineNet.com – http://www.medicinenet.com/ankylosing_spondylitis/article.htm
2. “Ankylosing Spondylitis”, on emedicine, by Wilfred CG Peh, MD, MBBS, FRCP(Glasg), FRCP(Edin), FRCR, MSHM, Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Senior Consultant Radiologist, Programme Office, Singapore Health Services – http://www.emedicine.com/RADIO/topic41.htm