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[Also known as: Morbus Bechterew or Bechterew’s diseases, Marie Strumpell disease, or rheumatoid spondylitis.]

 

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a disease that belongs to the family of arthritic affections.

Spondylosis alone refers to degenerative changes at the affected site, such as osteoarthritis, of the vertebral joints and the intervertebral discs [1]. Ankylosis indicates that new bone formations are developing at the affected sites on the spine, fusing the vertebrae and eventually restricting mobility of the spine in that area [2].

AS is characterized by chronic inflammation that primarily affects the vertebrae of the spine. In its progression it may lead to gradual stiffening of the spine. A major location of the disease is the sacroiliac joint, however the upper areas of the spine and other joints, such as the shoulders, hips, ribs and smaller joints of the extremities, may also be affected [2, 3].

 

The inflammation and stiffness of AS may be experienced as severely painful and very restricting to the mobility of the sufferer. The symptomatology is variant, as is the time of first appearance of symptoms. It is commonly in early adulthood that symptoms begin to show. There is a diffuse dullness and discomfort that may initially be felt, with pain and stiffness, gradually aggravating during the night and in the morning. Sufferers may also have symptoms of light fever, fatigue and lack appetite initially. Pain, tenderness and stiffness will become more persistent over months and years, spreading along the spine into the neck. It is not uncommon that sufferers may also have symptoms of bowel and eye inflammation, and concomitant involvement of the heart and lungs [2, 3].

 

Ankylosing spondylitis is believed to be a genetic / hereditary disorder. It is assumed that a hereditary marker (HLA-B27) is a strong indicator for this disorder. However the HLA-B27 marker is not a precise diagnostic test, and researchers have identified over 60 other genes that stand in connection to the disorder. A distinct cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis has to date not been identified. It has though been observed that AS could stand in connection to an immune response. AS frequently broke out in patients following an infection of the bowel or urinary tract [2, 3].

 

The symptoms of Ankylosing spondylitis are often mistaken for other more common back problems, which makes it difficult to identify AS from the patients presenting complaints and symptoms alone. Usually x-rays, MRIs or the detection of the HLA-B27 marker are needed to make a more precise diagnosis. However, particularly in the early stages of AS, x-rays cannot provide evidence of the presence of this disorder as the deformity of the vertebrae is not yet visual in the imaging [2, 3].

 

Strong symptomatic indicators for the presence of this disorder are restricted flexibility in the lumbar spine, un-symmetric inflammation of a single joint (knee-, or hip-joint), iritis / uveitis, and the stiffening of the vertebrae. Characteristic of AS is also, that patients complain about back pain during the night, which is improved by movement. Most other, more common back problems find relief by rest and aggravation by motion. The appearance or aggravation of symptoms is usually in episodes or flare-ups, that are interrupted by phases of symptom remission and amelioration [2, 3].

 

The prognosis of disease progression is variable, as in each individual patient the expression of the disorder is different. Some patients may largely only suffer of intermittent discomfort and pain, while others may have more of the stiffness for lasting periods of time, and yet others may experience mostly deformity and even disability. With certain patients symptoms are so mild they rarely even are diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis [2, 3].

 

The treatment of AS is focused on the amelioration of the presenting symptomatology. Until today, there is no ‘cure’ for AS. The aim of treatment is to reduce pain, to retain mobility and to restrict deformity. As such exercise and physical therapy is suggested, as are inflammation and pain reducing medications. Surgery is a treatment option where a destroyed joint needs to be replaced or posture requires to be corrected [2, 3].

 

In terms of the CAM therapies, it has been found that sufferers of arthritis and related disorders seek complementary and alternative treatment in order to find “relief for pain and suffering that traditional medications have not provided”; in order “to avoid potentially serious side effects associated with [conventional] medications”; and to avoid costs of “certain conventional medical and surgical treatments” [4, n.p.]. Sufferers of AS have reported finding relief from CAM treatment [4].

The treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis with homeopathy has to be individualized. Accordingly, the remedies below may be helpful in the treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis [5, 6]:

Aesculus, Agaricus, Asa foetida, Aurum, Bryonia, Calc. Carb., Calc. Fluor., Calc. Phos., Causticum, Cimicifuga, Colchicum, Conium, Ferr. Phos., Formica rufa, Harpagophytum, Hecla lava, Kalium carbonicum, Kalmia, Natrium muriaticum, Phytolacca, Rhus tox., Solidago virgaurea, Silicea.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

[1] emedicinehealth (2017) Spondylosis, Available at: https://www.emedicinehealth.com/spondylosis/article_em.htm (Accessed: 15th November 2017).

 

[2] Spondylitis Association of America (2017) Overview of Ankylosing Spondylitis, Available at: http://www.spondylitis.org/Ankylosing-Spondylitis (Accessed: 15th November 2017).

 

[3] WebMD (2017) Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis, Available at: https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/ankylosing-spondylitis#1 (Accessed: 15th November 2017). [4] Spondylitis Association of America (2017).

 

[4]Complementary Treatments, Available at: http://www.spondylitis.org/Complementary-Treatments (Accessed: 15th November 2017).

 

[5] Asa Hershoff (1996) Homeopathy for Musculoskeletal Healing , Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books.

 

[6] DHU (2011) Homöopathisches Repetitorium  Karlsruhe: Deutsche Homöopathie Union.

 

[7] Clarke, J. (1994) A Dictionary of practical materia medica New Delhi: B.Jain publishers Ltd.

 

 

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