Ankylosing spondylitis, in 40 A with a “bamboo cane” column

More than 40,000 people, according to the National Association of Rheumatologists, in Italy have to deal with ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease, If not treated properly, it can lead to a gradual decrease in the range of motion of the spine, until the formation of the so-called “bamboo cane”.

It appears with pain concentrated in the lumbar region, until radiating to the pelvis and buttocks, and lasts for at least three months. Dull pain that arises and gets worse with rest, even at night, as movement and exercise improve. So, Not the classic mechanical back pain, which it has little in common. This is stated in an article published by Aleati per la Salute (, the portal dedicated to medical-scientific information created by Novartis.

Unlike back pain that occurs at any age and whose pain is often associated with an injury or tear that improves with rest, Ankylosing spondylitis begins at a young age, especially in males, and tends to develop very slowly. It is not a frequent disease (affecting less than 1% of the population) but its symptoms lead to disability.

In the more advanced stages, the inflammatory process can ascend along the spine and also affect the dorsal and cervical region, with a tendency in the more advanced stages to vertebral sclerosis. In this case There is a weakness in the normal curvature of the spine with a tendency to tuberosity. This formation, which is frequently observed in the elderly, should immediately lead the clinician to the diagnostic suspicion of ankylosing spondylitis when it is detected at an early age. It is clear that in these circumstances the patient may have difficulty performing many activities of daily living, such as driving a car or sitting still for a long time.

As if that wasn’t enough, sometimes The patient also has to deal with other diseases: Episodes of Achilles tendonitis, pain in the heel and/or plantar area, inflammation of the eye with pain, redness and hypersensitivity to light (uveitis).

Although there are effective treatments – as the article reads – the problem with the disease lies in the delay with which it is diagnosed. According to a survey conducted by Anmar Ones (National Association of Rheumatologists), 60% of patients had to wait more than three years from the onset of the first obvious symptoms before being diagnosed, Only 29% claim to have a good quality of life, and eight in ten say they feel a sense of loss and the need to talk to someone about their discomfort even over the web. “But to be diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis – says Silvia Tonolo, president of Anmar – there are patients who wait up to 7-8 years. Without early diagnosis, it is impossible to put the disease on alert.”

So far, there are excellent treatments to stop the progression of the disease and control its symptoms. The priority goals in the management of the disease are to relieve pain and stiffness to restore and maintain correct posture and excellent joint mobility. But to ensure better living conditions for patients, timely therapeutic interventions should be preferred. Therefore, the role of the general practitioner becomes primary, and when the initial symptoms appear in 45% of cases, he is consulted in directing the patient to the most appropriate pathologist: the rheumatologist.

Lifestyle habits, such as eating a balanced diet, restful sleep, and psychological support from family and friends, also play a major role in disease and are likely to have a positive effect on health status. Equally important is the importance of targeted physical activity in ankylosing spondylitis, which, if performed daily, helps maintain correct posture, helps improve joint flight and has an analgesic action. However, it is necessary to be guided, especially in the beginning, by a naturopath and a physiotherapist in order to get the maximum benefit.

The full article is available at:

Phil Schwartz

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