“Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) — a disease often confused with mechanical back pain — can show signs in young adults as early as in their 20s or 30s. Contrary to the popular belief, AS is not a man’s disease and impacts both the genders equally. Yet, women continue to overlook the symptoms, which leads to an extremely delayed diagnosis. Early signs could be pain and stiffness in the lower back, especially in the morning or after prolonged inactivity. Female AS patients tend to ignore these symptoms which over time results in fusing of the spine leading to structural damage progression,” says Dr Rohini Handa, senior advisor rheumatologist, Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
Prevalent amongst 1 in 500 adults, AS is an irreversible, inflammatory, and autoimmune situation that results in spinal fusion. Absolutely the explanation for AS continues to be unknown; nevertheless, consultants consider that most individuals with AS have a standard gene referred to as HLA-B27. AS leads to power ache, stiffness, and swelling in numerous components of the physique (again, buttocks and thighs and so on.) particularly, within the morning or after sitting for a very long time.
Among the key signs embody:
- Begins earlier than the age of 40 years
- Development of the illness can manifest over time
- Early morning again ache and stiffness within the joints that persists over 90 days even with remedy and relaxation versus different frequent again pains that are worse with bodily exercise and higher with relaxation
- AS improves with train and worse with relaxation
- Sudden taking pictures ache within the again, joints, hips, buttocks, and again of the thigh
Additional highlighting extra on this situation amongst girls, Dr Handa defined, “Of all the patients who visit me with various rheumatological conditions, about 100 patients are diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in a month. The increasing numbers reflect increased awareness. However, when it comes to women, we don’t seem to be doing that well. The average male to female ratio of patients in my practice is 4:1. The actual figures are 2-3:1. This signifies that ankylosing spondylitis, in women, is underappreciated and underdiagnosed. Back pain in women is mostly attributed to periods or pain after childbirth. There is a societal acceptance that being a woman you have to put up with back pain. At times, even physicians do not take back pain in women seriously. These reasons contribute to the greater diagnostic delays in women, with disease progression that goes unrecognised.”
The male to feminine ratio of AS sufferers is 3:1 or 2:1 globally, although this varies in numerous ethnic teams. Feminine AS sufferers are more likely to expertise extra fatigue, useful incapacity than males and may develop psoriasis over time. They could additionally expertise psoriatic arthritis, irritation of their peripheral and cervical joints, in distinction to males who normally are inclined to have decrease again ache, particularly throughout preliminary years.
“Women with AS should take their back pain seriously and seek appropriate medical attention so that diseases like AS are diagnosed early and treated appropriately. Contrary to popular perception, AS does not exempt women. Women should pay attention to back symptoms and consult a rheumatologist. For patients on treatment, please do not let the ongoing Covid pandemic interrupt your treatment. Continue with your ongoing treatment under medical supervision. Biologics represent a major advance in the fight against AS. Talk to your rheumatologist about this game-changing treatment,” he added.
Girls with AS usually obtain overlapping analysis of different spine-related situations like spinal osteoarthritis, slipped disc (sciatica) and mostly fibromyalgia, a power ache dysfunction. A research discovered that 21 % of ladies ultimately identified with AS have been first advised that they had fibromyalgia.