Like most aging baby boomers, these old, stiff bones of mine tend to snap, crackle and pop like a bowl of morning breakfast cereal. Occasional back pain is now a way of life. Folks of a certain age don’t even lean over the sink to brush their teeth without carefully planning the move.
Unlike my fellow oldsters, however, people who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis (AS) may have started suffering chronic joint and back pain as early as their teens. According to the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA), AS is a chronic, lifelong disease that doesn’t pay attention to age or gender, although men are more likely to get the disease than women.
The association’s website explains that AS differs from common back pain caused by muscle spasms or slipped discs. AS is caused by inflammation. You’ll have it for a long time, but there are treatments to lessen the pain and stiffness. About half of AS sufferers later develop osteoporosis, or brittle bones.
Early AS symptoms include low back pain and stiffness. Tell your doctor if your pain:
- Lasts for more than three months
- Is worse after resting
- Gets better after moving around
- Is relieved after taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
The SAA offers the following advice if you’ve been diagnosed with AS.
- Keep moving, because daily exercise can help you stay flexible.
- Practice posture, because sitting and standing up straight may help with pain and stiffness.
- Use hot and cold pads and take hot showers to ease your aching back and joints. Cold packs may reduce swelling.
- Maintain a healthy body weight and stop smoking.
If you’ve been diagnosed with AS and the disease prevents you from working, Allsup may be able to help you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Click here to learn more about applying for disability benefits.