Bekhterev’s disease

What is Bekhterev’s disease?

Ankylosing spondylitis or Bechterev’s disease is a chronic form of arthritis, most often affecting the spine. The disease can cause pain and stiffness in the lower back, along the spine, buttocks and neck. Pain may also appear in other areas such as the hips, chest or heels. The clinical condition can also cause swelling and limitation of movement in these areas. The disease is more common in men than in women.

It is not curable, but treatment can control the symptoms and in most cases prevent the disease from getting worse. Most people retain motor function and are able to carry out their usual daily activities and are able to work.

But the disease can lead to a number of other medical problems. You may experience redness and pain in the colored part of the eye /iritis/. You may also have breathing problems due to the curvature of the spine and the compression of the spine on exhalation.

What are the symptoms?

The disease causes mild to severe pain in the lower back and buttocks, and in most cases it is worse in the morning. In some people, the pain is stronger in the hips and heels. The pain gradually disappears with movement and physical activity. The disease begins in about 10-20% during the teenage years.

Over time, the disease progresses as the ligaments, tendons and spinal vertebrae swell. And this causes joining or even complete fusion of the spinal vertebrae. The process is called ankylosis. And this leads to a limitation of the movement capabilities of the spine.

Ankylosis can also cause loss of mobility in the neck and lower back. And so the affected person cannot walk upright, and his posture is distorted and he stands bent forward.

When the small joints that connect the ribs and collarbone to the sternum become inflamed, you may find it harder to breathe. Other parts of the body such as the eyes and other joints may also swell. Sometimes the disease can affect the lungs, heart valves, gastrointestinal tract and the main artery of the body – the aorta.

What are the causes?

The cause of the disease is unknown, but sometimes there is a hereditary factor in its development. Most people with ankylosing spondylitis are born with a certain HLA-B27 gene. But having this does not mean you will develop the disease. Research shows that bacterial infections and your living environment can also be a factor.

Treatment of Bekhterev’s Disease

Treatment consists of exercises and physiotherapy. This helps reduce stiffness so you can walk with straighter shoulders and move better. Your treating doctor can prescribe medication for pain and swelling.

People with ankylosing spondylitis are at increased risk of spinal cord injury, so it is important to wear a seat belt whenever you drive or ride in a car.

It is necessary to undergo regular eye examinations to protect yourself from complications in case of possible inflammation of the eye. You can use a cane to help you walk and reduce stress on your joints.

Surgery treatment of the spine is rarely necessary. A hip or knee replacement can only be considered if these joints are severely affected by arthritis.

There is no cure for this disease, but early diagnosis and treatment will help relieve pain and stiffness. This will allow you to do your usual daily activities for as long as possible.

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