People are not pandas.
So as a general rule, seeing bamboo is not going to make us happy—a fact that is most emphatically true for people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
The inflammatory condition comes with many pains and inconveniences. Out of all the complications, perhaps nothing inspires fear quite like “bamboo spine.”
“Bamboo spine,” named for the unnaturally square shape of the vertebrae, is a standard indication that the spine has begun fusing. If AS progresses far enough over the years, calcification may eventually cause the entire column to stiffen into an inflexible shoot.
While this isn’t a terminal happenstance by any means, a “bamboo spine” means more pronounced limitations in mobility, which is something people with AS would love to avoid.
There are a few treatments on the market, in addition to surgery and physical therapy, that promise a chance of keeping at-risk spines pleasantly bamboo-free. However, with 70% of AS patients experiencing “bamboo spine” and up to 40% not being happy with their treatment results, those options aren’t good enough.
Fortunately, it appears that Cosentyx, a new biologic from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, is here to take AS patient satisfaction off the endangered list.
New results from Novartis indicate that Cosentyx is having a real benefit in studies. According to two years’ worth of recently released study data, X-rays show that Cosentyx may be the first treatment of its kind to reduce spinal damage. That’s not even getting into the improvements it seems to make in quality of life and other AS symptoms.
Cosentyx is already approved in 49 countries for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, including (for specific cases) in the United States. Hopefully, if the positive results are conserved, more patients will be saying “bye-bye” to spinal fusion for good and leaving the bamboo for the pandas.