Episode 024: 9 Complications of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Hello and welcome to this episode of The Ankylosing Spondylitis Podcast. I decided in this episode I was going to kind of revisit some of the areas that we had already touched upon and some issues I’ve been having with my right eye brought this upon.
I started looking around I said, you know, I've kind of touched about all this, but I'm going to tie them into this package of nine possible complications that we can come into from having Ankylosing Spondylitis. The actual nine possible complications came from an article in Medical News Today that I'll have linked below. But a lot of these are all things that those of us that have Ankylosing Spondylitis need to be aware of, we need to watch out for this.
If anybody's listening for the first time, Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic autoimmune disorder. Anyone that's diagnosed with AS needs to be aware of these complications, that it can present to our health, both physical health and mental health.
There are a lot of things that we need to be aware of. So first, this week's Question of the Week, saw a post yesterday that kind of touched me it was one where the person said that they were really kind of feeling ignored by everybody withdrawn. No real social life, at times, maybe despondent, maybe it's a little touch, but I'm going to use that word despondent, many people and what some fantastic to see jumped right on and told this person, hey, you're walking around here, and I understand how you're feeling. But you know, chin up, all of that is great to support the person. I love seeing it. But this person's emotions were not wrong. As I touched on in the last one, they have to own their whole scope of emotions, and then deal with it in the best way that they can. So I hope this person gets any type of therapeutic help that they need, build a support network, even if it's support that you don't physically see the people but you talk to them online. All of that is Good because we know that this disease can really affect you socially. And overall it can just be a real, a real isolating type of item and we'll talk a little bit more than nine items. So anyway, I saw that I was really happy to see everybody jump right in and discuss with this person. So kudos to everybody that is listening that takes place at the forums participates and offers a friendly shoulder to cry on so to speak when it's needed. I really enjoy that about this community. We're going to look at the complications as we've said, Ankylosing Spondylitis you know as a type of arthritis, and if based upon triggering painful inflammation in the body, whether it be in the hips, the knees, the feet, the elbows, the, you know, ribs, whatever. As the condition progresses, if the inflammation remains unchecked, other complications can arise in our life. It's very important to get the inflammation controlled that can be done by diet that can be done by medication. or some combination of all of the above. If you're having questions, not sure where to start, talk to your doctor. These items I'm going to go across just so I can get this out there. I am not a doctor. This is not specific medical advice related to you. It's for informational purposes only. If one of these sounds like it's something that you are having a struggle with dealing with, or concerned about, consult your doctor talk to him or her so that they can help you work through the stages of what needs to be done to alleviate this problem or head off this problem.
Number one, eye problems we all know about uveitis. I write on the type of conjunctivitis that you might get through having Ankylosing Spondylitis. As I've said in previous episodes, you really want to have now this really applies more to the United States because I'm not sure how doctors work in other countries), but if you have Ankylosing Spondylitis in the United States, you really want to have an ophthalmologist at a minimum on call. The ophthalmologist can usually, if you talk to them and say, “Look, I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, it can develop to iritis. There are times I may need to call and have an emergency appointment”. The doctor, the ophthalmologist should be well aware of that condition and be able to get you in quite fast though, they'll understand the need to get this treated quickly. So remember, if inflammation spreads to the eyes, it can cause symptoms, like where your eyes will get swollen, painful, red and puffy. You might think oh, I've got pink eye if you have as we go getting anything treated for pink eye, always just default right to uveitis and have the doctor treat you that way. Is there a prescription medications that they can provide to you get in there, get it treated, and don't let it go too far.
Number Two, reduced flexibility. This is what I deal with. When I was a kid. The doctor started testing me and saying bend over and can you touch the floor. I couldn't now I'm lucky if I could just bend over and even a bigger challenges for me standing up straight. I covered this in a previous episode where I talked about exercise, do what you can, don't overdo it, but do what you can to keep your range of motion strong. Make sure to adjust for your posture, make sure that you're sitting correctly. If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, make sure that they try to accommodate you with a better chair if available, or whatever they can do. My old employer had a whole ergonomics department, they would come right to your desk and measure the way you're sitting they measure your chair and my case I just had to provide a doctor's note based upon my disability and they went and got me a special chair to sit in which was awesome. The only part was that as people kept trying to take it, but because it was a unique chair, I could always go figure out who had it and we'll go back to my desk, make sure that you're adjusting for those things. If you have a home office, you know maybe you look at getting a good chair, whatever it is to make it better for you.
Number Three tiredness or fatigue. One thing that will come across a lot and Ankylosing Spondylitis is fatigue. In my case, I was so tired, I'd moved into a new house and just a thought of unpacking a box, maybe sit back down on the couch and be exhausted need a nap. After working a full day. I just couldn't have the energy didn't have the energy to actually unpack. So I went to my doctor, and he started doing a bunch of tests on me obviously started off with a blood test. And he said, I'm going to check your testosterone. I said, Okay, I've never had that done. He checked it, and I was really low. And he says, there's your problem right there. Now, I don't know if that's as related. I can't say it is can't say it isn't. But I got the testosterone shots, and I'm still on him to this day. And it's been an amazing item for me providing the energy back that I lacked. So talk to your doctor. It could be vitamin B shots could be any number of things that he or she could detect and offer to help with some of the fatigue that Ankylosing Spondylitis brings in. You also may be prescribed biologics. The Enbrel’s and Humira has some of those by reducing the inflammation can then turn around and if the inflammation goes down, your body isn't fighting it so you're not as fatigued. So like I said, there's a, there's a lot of ways to address this one and then again, another option is on top of all these other ones is exercise. Keep all that in mind, talk to your doctor. But if you're tired all the time, there may be some very good ways to help adjust some of that and work with it.
Number four, Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that makes the bones less dense than normal, it occurs in the body loses too much bone or makes too little bone the most can become brittle and may break more easily. This is something that can develop in the spine of people with as the bamboo spine and so the risk of spinal injury becomes greater. You'll see this discussed online when a lot of people say I'm going to my chiropractor and there's others that say don't I personally don't go to a chiropractor and won't go to one because my spine is already fused. So you know, I'm not going to take the chance that even though the doctor may say that he or she knows what they're doing. They really do. So you know, this creates a lot of contention online. If your spine is not fused, yet chiropractor may work for you, if your spine is fused, you may want to stay away. It's really your choice and then according to a study and current rheumatology reports asked you a process frequently occurs in people with as even in the early stages, the disorder is a severe inflammation caused by as that is not to contribute to it. So, you know, again, talk to your doctor, let him or her discuss with you the options and what's best going forward. If you have been told you might be developing any osteoporosis to go along with it
Number Five gastrointestinal disorders. I see this online with different people talking about different gastrointestinal disorders that they have developed. And again, current opinion rheumatology did a report that said up to 50% of as patients have inflammation, their gut inflammation in the intestinal tract and bowels can also contribute to issues like stomach pain, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, problems with digit digesting and more severe conditions can lead to something you know, like maybe Crohn's disease or any number of other items that I see people talk about. I've been fairly lucky and have not had any real gastrointestinal disorders. So knock on wood it stays that way. I do really feel for the folks that have it I that's one that has got to be real rough.
Number six, increased risk of heart disease people with as may also be at increased risk of developing some heart problems, cardiovascular issues, that as contributes to include aortitis, aortic valve disease, conductive problems, ischemic heart disease, and cardiomyopathy. So taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of any cardiovascular symptoms or disease is important what those of us with as again, it goes back to what the heart disease regular exercise, eating a healthful diet are all part of a good treatment for people with as and to reduce the risk of heart disease. It also helps people to avoid tobacco use and maintain a healthy weight. So in my case, I don't use tobacco. So that's not an issue. The Healthy Weight has been my problem and I'm in the process of trying to lose some weight. So we'll see how that goes.
Number Seven, this is one that relates back to the Question of the Week. Number seven is social unemployment problems, you know, with having Ankylosing Spondylitis should not always have any direct impact on employment, we know that it does. If you're unable to work for long periods of time, or if you're in constant pain, when you're at work, all those can make keeping a job much more difficult. Again, I'm going to use the state's here because if there's number of places that are at will employment, you know, if you miss work, they can cut you and they don't have to give any reason and it makes it harder for you to prove that there was a wrongful termination. So my suggestion again, I'm not a lawyer, but if you think that you're going to be missing time from any job due to your Ankylosing Spondylitis, make sure to go out and get the FMLA set up through HR Also, if you think that there's any contestable issues or contentious issues With your HR department, one thing to remember is generally with your HR less is more, they're there to protect your company, they're not there to protect you. So if you think that you're being treated in poorly or incorrectly due to your job due to your boss due to anything that's around the employment, your best bet is to always seek the services on attorney first and have them walk you through what might be the appropriate items to discuss with HR, what might be the appropriate items not to discuss, get an attorney, if you think there's any issues with losing your job, then there are a couple of rare complications and to be honest with you, I had never heard of these before. I'm not really affected by them, but I'm going to go over them.
Number eight, and I'm going to butcher these names. So please, I apologize for this. I don't have a medical background. So saying some of these Latin terms always throws. Number Eight Cauda Equina Syndrome, inflammation that we all have with as could cause bony overgrowth and lead to an extremely rare condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome. This condition causes bone growth, which leads to pressure and swelling at the end of the spinal cord. The swelling can compact the nerves the lower back and cause symptoms such as pain and numbness, stinging or tingling sensations in the legs, inability to walk in incontinence, if left untreated Cauda Equina Syndrome can lead to paralysis and other severe issues. If you think you have that think there's something you might have talked to your doctor about it that was rare, so make sure that you're informing your doctor that you think you may have this
Number Nine Amyloidosis. I butchered that one, is caused by the buildup of protein called Amyloid in the organs; amyloidosis can cause symptoms such as weight loss, water retention, and tiredness. Again, this is a rare syndrome, rare complication. So you're having these issues, talk to your doctor with that amyloidosis. You might have any symptoms that resemble nerve damage, such as tingling in the hands and feet, and there are some medications that are used to treat this. So But again, it's a rare item So now that we've looked at these nine items, what are some of the treatments, these are going to be really basic. So the more in depth treatments you want to talk to your doctor about.
Remember Ankylosing Spondylitis presents itself in a variety of ways. And even though we have the same disease, we don't always have the same complications. Everybody in this is different, which makes it so hard. So doctors are also going to prescribe a number of different ways to treat it could be assets to help with reducing inflammation, that's usually one of the starting points up to things like the various biologics that are out there that can help to control the inflammation and then reduce some of the progression of as not cured. I'm going to cure maybe taking you out of a flare, reducing or slowing down the progression alongside medical treatments. Doctors also might suggest that we do some physical activity, come up with a workout plan. If you're like me and you're overweight, start off with something simple, do what your body can do, but don't overdo it. Maybe it's physical therapy that the doctor puts you in. There's light stretching, get out one of those rubber bands. You know from like a Walmart or a Meijer or you know, Academy or whatever you have around that you can use just stretch your legs and stretch your arms, if that's the basics of what you can do. There's also that exercise like swimming, bicycle riding. If you can do that those all can help promote flexibility and reduce some symptoms. And then once you're done, use either ice or hot pockets on any of those to help reduce some of the inflammation.
Overall, Ankylosing Spondylitis we know is complex disease disorder, and it could cause some serious complications for all of us if they're left unchecked. The great thing is I don't see a lot of people talk about not doing anything with it online. They're just curious as to what the best path is. And it's very hard for a bunch of people to tell you what you should do. That's not safe. Have your doctor tell you what you should do. But always be aware of any symptoms or side effects because you want to make sure you live a good, healthy, happy life. Find a treatment plan that works for you. Just go forward. Remember, we're all here to help each other and I really appreciate You're listening. It's fun to do these. I love getting the feedback from everybody. And I wish everybody just a great day and successful time in dealing with their Ankylosing Spondylitis. Thanks