Ankylosing Spondylitis(Bamboo Spine)
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. It is a type of spondylarthritis, which is a group of conditions that cause inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissues.
AS is more common in men than women and usually develops in the late teenage years or early adulthood. It is a progressive disease, which means that symptoms may worsen over time if left untreated.
Causes: The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
- Genetics: AS has a strong genetic component, with more than 90% of people with the condition having the genetic marker HLA-B27. However, having the marker does not necessarily mean a person will develop the disease. Other genetic factors may also be involved in the development of AS.
- Environmental factors: Environmental factors, such as infections or exposure to certain toxins, may trigger the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues, leading to chronic inflammation and the development of AS.
- Autoimmune factors: AS is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the body, including the joints and spine. This leads to chronic inflammation, which can cause joint damage and fusion.
- Gender and age: AS are more common in men than women and usually develops in the late teenage years or early adulthood. However, it can occur at any age.
- Family history: AS tends to run in families, suggesting that inherited genetic factors play a role in the development of the condition.
Symptoms: The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks, which is usually worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity.
- Pain and stiffness in other joints, such as the hips, shoulders, and knees.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Eye inflammation, which can cause redness, pain, and sensitivity to light.
- Difficulty taking deep breaths, which may be caused by inflammation of the chest wall or spine.
In severe cases, chronic inflammation can lead to the fusion of the spinal vertebrae, resulting in a condition known as bamboo spine. This can cause a stooped posture and significantly impact a person’s mobility and quality of life.
Complications: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can lead to a range of complications, including:
- Spinal fusion: Prolonged inflammation of the spine can cause the vertebrae to fuse together, which can result in a rigid, inflexible spine. This can lead to a hunched or stooped posture, making it difficult to breathe and perform daily activities.
- Limited mobility: Spinal fusion can significantly limit the mobility of the spine and other joints, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as dressing, bathing, and reaching for objects.
- Eye problems: Inflammation can also affect the eyes, causing redness, pain, and sensitivity to light. In some cases, inflammation can lead to a condition called uveitis, which can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.
- Cardiovascular disease: People with AS have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, due to chronic inflammation.
- Osteoporosis: Long-term use of corticosteroids, which are often used to manage AS, can lead to osteoporosis or brittle bones, increasing the risk of fractures.
- Psychological effects: Chronic pain, limited mobility, and changes in physical appearance can lead to depression, anxiety, and social isolation in people with AS.
Bamboo spine is a term used to describe the characteristic appearance of the spine in people with advanced ankylosing spondylitis (AS). In AS, chronic inflammation causes the bones of the spine to fuse together, resulting in a rigid, inflexible spine that looks like a bamboo stalk on x-ray images.
As the disease progresses, the vertebral bones become more and more fused, causing the spine to lose its natural curvature, and becoming increasingly stiff. This can lead to a stooped or hunched posture, making it difficult for affected individuals to perform everyday activities such as standing, walking, and sitting for extended periods of time.
Bamboo spine is not always present in people with AS and usually develops after many years of untreated or poorly managed disease. However, once it occurs, it is irreversible and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Role of Neurotherapy: It is commonly held in the field of neurotherapy that ankylosing spondylitis (AS) arises because of an imbalance in parathyroid hormone, leading to interference with the functioning of osteoclasts and osteoblasts thus results in stiffness in the bones. When the aforementioned factors converge, calcification of the vertebrae may occur, which can lead to reduced flexibility and eventually spinal fusion, commonly referred to as bamboo spine.
In the context of neurotherapy, it is believed that the modality plays a role in balancing the acid-alkaline levels in the body, while also addressing the underlying causes of the condition. Specifically, it is thought to help regulate the secretion of parathyroid hormone, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of certain conditions.