How to avoid neck pain (spondylitis)

Nobody likes a pain in the neck.

We are not talking of the many problems in your life, we are talking spondylitis over here.

Spondylitis – more precisely ankylosing spondylitis – is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. Patients experience pain and stiffness from the neck down to the lower back. This is due to the vertebrae growing or fusing together resulting in a rigid spine. The condition could be mild or severe, and may lead to a stooped-over posture. The good news is that an early diagnosis and treatment proves helpful in controlling pain or even deformity.

Although spondylitis can occur at any age, it most often afflicts men in their teens and 20s. It is less common and generally milder in women.

You know you have spondylitis when:

  1. There is pain and stiffness in the low back, buttocks and hips for more than three months

  2. You are unable to perform routine activities due to the fusion affecting bones of the neck, back, or hips. Fusion of the ribs to the spine or breastbone may impair ability to breathe deeply.

  3. There is pain in ligaments and tendons

  4. You experience fever, fatigue and loss of appetite which although surprising, is common since spondylitis affects the entire body system and not just the joints

What causes spondylitis?

The actual cause of spondylitis is unknown. What is evident from research is that it is triggered by genetics. A gene called HLA-B27 is responsible for spondylitis in most but not all cases.

Treating spondylitis

Although there is no cure for spondylitis, it is possible to reduce discomfort and improve function. With proper and timely treatment patients can lead relatively normal lives.

Spondylitis is treated by a combination of exercise, medication and physical therapy. Ideally, there is a team-based approach to treating spondylitis. Members of the team include the patient, doctor and therapist.

In extreme cases, surgery could be an option for artificial joint replacement of the hips or knees.

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