What does the public know about ankylosing spondylitis (AS)? For World AS Awareness Day, we went on the streets to find answers to this question. We talked to moms, dads, the old and young, and the truth quickly came out: they didn’t know much – not even what AS stands for. Their honest responses ranged from Asperger’s Syndrome to Acute Scrotum to something to do with the blood, brain or ankles.
As funny as these answers are, it’s very important that we spread the word about AS and get undiagnosed people the help and support they need.
Raising AS awareness is so important because it’s a disease that gets worse over time, causing inflammation of the spine - making joints and other areas of the body swollen, stiff and painful.1 AS affects two-to-three times as many men as women and usually develops between the ages of 15 and 40.1
Help us spread the word about AS today by passing along this video, sharing This AS Life with your friends or joining an AS support group near you. First: learn more about what AS really is.
Understand the symptoms
Unlike the video suggests, the most common AS symptoms aren’t found in your brain or ankles, but are related to back pain and stiffness.1 And it gets worse, people suffering from AS might also experience swollen fingers or toes, chest pain and tightness and extreme tiredness. If you or someone you know have those symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.1,2
Start the conversation
AS diagnosis can take from 8-11 years from when symptoms first start.3 If you have any of the symptoms, see your doctor for a chat. They’ll examine you, may do a blood test and might send you for an x-ray or MRI of your spine. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions and, if you're not happy with their answers, go to a patient support group for advice on the next step to take.
Once you get an AS diagnosis, you can talk about the right treatment with your doctor and hopefully start feeling better. Want to know more about diagnosis?
If you need more support, talk to someone who’s in the know who can give you an inside scoop, just reach out to a support group in your area.
This article was written by one of the resident experts at ThisASLife.com. A social site helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.
1. Sieper J et al. Ann Rheum Dis 2002; 61(Suppl III): iii8–iii18
2. Overman Cl et al. Clin Rheumatol. 2016; 35: 409-15
3. Rudwaleit M et al. Ann Rheum Dis 2004;63:535–543