The Foot in Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-term inflammatory joint condition that usually affects the vertebrae, but could affect all joints in the body and several other organ systems. The name ‘ankylosing’ means a fusing of the joints and ‘spondylitis’ means the spine. The disease impacts on about 0.1-0.2% of the population and does affect males more often. It generally simply begins as an ache in the lower back which is really no different in signs and symptoms to almost every other common low back condition so is typically treated as such. Generally, this treatment will probably not work and other methods get used. Inevitably, when some other symptoms occur in additional joints there might be more investigation bringing about the proper diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. This process could take up to a decade before the diagnosis is made. The standard approach to treatment for this is to use drugs to deal with the inflammatory process inside the joint along with physiotherapy to help keep the spine mobile and flexible.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects the foot often. One way is that the joint inflammation process can affect the joints in the feet and cause symptoms there. Heel spurs or plantar fasciitis is quite common in those with this disease. This type of heel pain isn’t the typical one that you get because it is part of the disease process, consequently tends not to respond effectively to the conventional methods of dealing with heel pain. Like the joint inflammation that impacts the joints in the foot, the treatment is primarily directed at the drugs that reduce the inflammatory response. The other way that ankylosing spondylitis impacts feet are indirect. Because the major symptoms of the disease are in the spine, the lower as well as upper back become very limited in motion, so people that have ankylosing spondylitis tend to have difficulties bending over to reach their feet. Because of this they cannot even perform basic things like cut their own toe nails or self-care for their feet. They’re also going to have issues managing different conditions that impact the foot. They will often need to see a podiatrist frequently for foot care and maintenance of foot health and for the regular management of any foot conditions that might occur.