Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic disease primarily affecting the lower back with constant pain and stiffness leading to restriction of movements. Homeopathy is found to be the best approach in remedy selection for patients suffering from the disease.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) refers, or relates, to inflammatory arthritis of the spine and other joints. It also reminds one of the bony pangs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) - which may sometimes progress to bony ankylosis (stiffening, or fixation, of the joint due to the disease process), along with the formation of a ‘lip-like’ structure of the vertebral margins. While the disorder is more common in men, it is often diagnosed by the existence of HLA (human lymphocyte antigens), in the absence of rheumatoid factor.
Pronounced, ankle-low-zing spond-ill-eye-tiss, AS causes pain, and stiffness, in the back and also bent posture - primarily on account of swelling and irritation of the spinal joints, or vertebra. The condition may eventually make the vertebrae ‘fuse’ together, along with inflammation of the tendons and ligaments that connect and provide support to the joints. This may lead to pain and tenderness (sensitivity) in the ribs, shoulder blade, hip, thigh, shin, heel, and the spine.
One characteristic feature of the disorder is the involvement of the joints at the base of the spine, where the spine joins the pelvis.
The course of the disorder is highly variable.
Symptoms & Signs
This is how AS emerges - a classical early-morning stiffness and pain in your lower back that gets better, or reduces, during the day with exercise, or when you get into your regular routine.
When pain has persisted for more than three months - it could suggest that the problem may be more than just a simple ‘wear and tear’ in your back. The possibility is - you could be suffering from ankylosing spondylitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis typically affects individuals between age 15 and 30. It is not unusual for the condition to manifest after age 40.
The exact cause of Ankylosing spondylitis is unknown. Research suggests that there could be a strong link of Ankylosing spondylitis being genetically inherited, especially in the presence of human lymphocyte antigens (HLA0 in 90 per cent of individuals presenting with the condition.
Ankylosing spondylitis is suggested to be an ‘autoimmune disorder’ - where the body’s own immune cells damage the joints of the spine. This causes the swelling between your vertebrae and the joints, while involving your spine and pelvis. Pain and stiffness are the first symptoms - they are usually felt in the lower back and upper buttocks. While the spine and the neck may also be affected, in certain advanced cases of SA, where ‘fusion’ of the spine has taken place, there may also be a complete loss of mobility. The whole area becomes brittle and vulnerable for fracture. The spine may also become inflexible (‘bamboo spine’) - this makes both standing and walking difficult for the AS individual.
At times, AS may herald the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Besides, certain SA patients may present with fever, fatigue, weight loss, anaemia and inflammation of the eye (iritis), while severe cases of SA may have heart valve dysfunction.
While early, appropriate diagnosis and homeopathic therapy may minimise pain and disability, it is imperative that rehabilitation measures are promulgated for better treatment outcomes (Also: read ‘Self-Help,’ at the end of this article). Proper sleep and walking positions are a must, as also abdominal and back exercises - to maintain good posture. While physical workouts assist in joint flexibility, breathing exercises enhance lung capacity, just as much as swimming provides for the optimal aerobic exercise effect. Continuing supportive care is critical. This is because AS is generally a lifelong problem. When SA patients fail to follow, or continue, regular treatment, there is an imminent danger - permanent posture and mobility loss.
Research evidences that homeopathic remedies are traditionally safe and effective in most chronic and autoimmune disorders, like AS, thanks to their subtle bioenergetic therapeutic action, and also for correcting the out-of-sync immune system. However this may be, constitutional homeopathic treatment, under the guidance of a professional homeopath, is imperative for safe, effective, long-term results.
Homeopathic treatment can be most effective when the intervention is promulgated well in time. This is primarily because homoeopathic remedies work by optimising the body’s overactive immune (defence0 system and bringing them back to normal quickly, more so in the early stages - when AS is not far too gone, or caused irreversible organic changes.
The stage of SA where homeopathic treatment is initiated is a major factor in determining effective outcomes of treatment. For example, if treatment is started in the initial stages, when not too much of elastic tissue is lost, the prognosis is good - besides, the condition could be reversed to the extent possible. However, when extensive bone ‘formation’ has ‘remodelled’ the elastic tissue, homeopathic remedies may not be able to reverse the situation - although they may be used to easing the most distressing of AS symptoms.
A Case In Point
Vikram, a market analyst, presented with AS. He reported that conventional painkillers snubbed his SA pain, but only during the early stage. He was, therefore, put on conventional disease-modifying drugs, including steroids, when the disorder progressed. In spite of this, his condition deteriorated. It was at this stage that Vikram contemplated of homeopathic treatment. We analysed his case - and, we prescribed him appropriate homeopathic remedy, based on his complete portrait of symptoms, clinical presentation, and temperament, among other parameters. After a span of eight months, Vikram reported tangible relief from pain. We also analysed and confirmed that the intensity of his SA pain and stiffness had reduced and the condition had stopped deteriorating any further. The best part - there was, at this point, no further evidence of inflexibility of his spine.
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