The Foot and Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a long term inflammatory joint condition which frequently affects the vertebrae, but may impact any joints in the body and also some other organ systems. The term ‘ankylosing’ refers to a fusing of the joints and ‘spondylitis’ refers to the spine. The condition impacts on around 0.1-0.2% of the population and does affect males more often. It commonly just begins as an discomfort in the lumbar region which is actually just the same in signs and symptoms to any other frequent back problem so is generally treated as such. Typically, this approach will fail and other methods get used. Eventually, when other symptoms occur in other joints there might be further investigation leading to the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. This process could take up to a decade before the diagnosis is made. The normal approach to treatment for this is to use medications to deal with the inflammatory process within the joint and also physiotherapy to help keep the spine mobile and flexible.

Ankylosing spondylitis has an effect on the foot often. The first way is that the joint inflammation process can impact the joints in the foot and result in pain there. Heel spurs or plantar fasciitis is quite prevalent in those with Ankylosing spondylitis. This kind of heel pain isn’t the common one that you get as it is part of the disease process, so tends not to respond very well to the traditional methods of dealing with heel pain. Like the joint disease that affects the joints in the feet, the treatment is primarily directed at the medication that suppress the inflammatory response. Another way that ankylosing spondylitis has an effect on feet are indirect. As the principal signs and symptoms of the disease are in the spine, the lower and upper back become very constrained in motion, so those with ankylosing spondylitis tend to have trouble bending over to reach their feet. Consequently they are unable to even carry out simple things like trim their own toe nails or self-care for their feet. They’re also going to have issues dealing with different problems that affect the foot. They could need to see a foot doctor on a regular basis for foot care and maintenance of foot health and for the regular treatments for any foot issues that could occur.

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