Ankylosing spondylitis is one of the various forms of arthritis. This condition involves inflammation of the tendons, ligaments and other tissues that surround the spine. Even though the low back is the usual location for the symptoms, this condition can affect other parts of the body as well.
It is important to note that ankylosing spondylitis can be mild or disabling. In some cases, the vertebra of the spine can fuse. Even though this condition typically affects men, the disease can be as severe in women. The signs and symptoms of spondylitis in women tend to differ slightly from men. Since the symptoms can vary for men and women, being able to recognize the indications can help the individual work with the doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Low back and neck pain
Ankylosing spondylitis typically starts with pain in the low back, buttocks and/or hips. The pain is characterized as dull that can be intermittent initially and then progressively worsens over months or years.
The pain is usually worse in the morning and after a period of inactivity or being sedentary. The disease can start off in this manner for most women. Among women, the pain might be the initial warning sign, but the pain might start in the neck area instead of the low back.
The condition can also trigger pain in other parts of the body such as the feet, hands, heels, ankles and the knees. In some women, the condition is strikingly similar to fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. It simply means that the woman might experience generalized ache versus having pain limited in the low back or hips. In addition, the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are milder among women and progresses in a slower manner than in men. Due to this, more women might have the condition but can go undiagnosed.
Both men and women who have ankylosing spondylitis can suffer from stiffness in the back that is worse in the morning. Take note that the stiffness can be relieved with gentle movement or taking a hot shower.
In some women, the condition does not worsen while in others, the stiffness can cause loss of mobility. On the other hand, if this condition affects a woman during the child bearing years, the pregnancy can be challenging. The stiffness and pain of the condition can become severe during pregnancy. In addition, if spinal fusion occurs and limits range of motion, the delivery can be difficult.
What are the general symptoms?
There are some common general symptoms that affect both men and women. The symptoms include mild fever, fatigue and appetite loss. The structural changes to the spine can add pressure on the nerves that control digestion which results to Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome or other bowel abnormalities.
In some cases, there is inflammation of the heart or eyes. In case the stiffness is severe, the ribs might be restricted that makes deep breathing difficult.