Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a kind of inflammatory disease that affects the spine. It is normally diagnosed when a person is a young adult. However, it is a chronic disease, meaning that it lasts a long time, even into old age. There is no cure for AS, but it can be treated. In addition, there are ways to help older adults manage the symptoms at home.
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of AS. It appears to have a genetic component since scientists have determined that people with a certain gene, HLA-B27, are more likely to develop the disease. Men are affected by AS more often than women.
The parts of the body most commonly affected by AS are:
- The joint that connects the spine to the pelvis.
- The lower back.
- Points where tendons and ligaments attach to bones. This happens mostly in the back but can also occur in the heel.
- Cartilage that connects the breast bone to the ribs.
- Hip and shoulder joints.
Symptoms of AS include:
- Pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips, especially in the morning or after resting.
- Neck pain.
AS can cause vertebrae in the spine to fuse together. As a result, the back is less flexible. The person may develop a hunched posture. When the ribs are impacted by AS, taking deep breaths may be difficult.
Managing AS Pain at Home
Although there are medical treatments that can be used to treat AS, such as medications and physical therapy, there are also ways AS sufferers can deal with pain at home. Some steps you can take are:
- Use either hot or cold packs to ease pain during a flare. Whether you use hot or cold depends on what feels best for the older adult. Cold will reduce swelling while heat can improve stiffness.
- Encourage the senior not to sit in one place for too long as periods of inactivity can make symptoms worse. Remind them to get up and walk around for a few minutes at least once per hour.
- Remind your aging relative to practice good posture. Sitting in a hunched over position can make pain worse and may lead to vertebrae fusing in a hunched position.
- Eating a healthier diet can improve overall health and help to keep weight under control. Excess weight places more strain on the back.
Home care can assist with the management of AS pain. A home care provider can allow the senior to rest as needed, taking care of household tasks like cleaning, but also help them to move around as often as possible. Home care providers can also prepare hot and cold packs and help the senior to apply them. Finally, home care providers can prepare healthy meals for your loved one.
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING HOME CARE IN LONSDALE, MN FOR AN AGING LOVED ONE, CONTACT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF BLOOMINGTON AT (952) 226-4653. OUR CARING STAFF CAN ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS!