Joel is like a lot of people. For two years, he suffered from back pain that was resistant to treatment. He had physical therapy, medications, and was placed in traction–to no avail.
As he found out later, his problem wasn’t simple back pain, it was caused by ankylosing spondylitis, or AS, a type of arthritis that affects the spine.
AS is more prevalent among men, and is most commonly found in young people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Early symptoms can include lower back soreness, joint pain, and stiffness in the morning. Many cases are misdiagnosed because of a lack of awareness within the general population as well as the medical community. Patients often suffer from AS for a long time before being diagnosed correctly. Over-the-counter pain relievers can mask the symptoms, making diagnosing AS even more challenging.
However, early diagnosis can help patients avoid disabling postural deformities and joint fusion.