World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day

World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day is the best opportunity to get informed and start supporting patients physically and mentally. Learn more here!
World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day

Last update: 26 September, 2021

World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in May. However, it goes to the second Saturday in May when the first Saturday happens on May 1, since it’s a public holiday in many countries. This way, it doesn’t take away from the other holiday.

But what is this disease?

Ankylosing Spondylitis is inflammatory arthritis that occurs mainly in the joints of the back and pelvis. Acute ailments and stiffness tend to improve with physical activities, and inactivity can make it worse.

In this sense, World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day aims to raise awareness and connect people with it with a support network around the world. Here, we will learn more about the disease, its causes, treatments, and how to support those with it.

Ankylosing spondylitis and axial spondyloarthritis

Ankylosing spondylitis or spondyloarthritis has changed its name to be more precise in what it is. In this sense, there’s a traditional and an updated model where axial spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) appears.

The traditional model includes:

  • Ankylosing spondyloarthritis: Inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the spine.
  • Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis: A heterogeneous group of joint conditions with characteristics of spondyloarthropathies, but not entirely consistent.
  • Enteropathic arthritis: An inflammatory joint disease that arises from intestinal diseases.
  • Juvenile spondyloarthritis: Spondyloarthropathy in children under 16 years of age.
  • Reactive arthritis: Inflammation of the joints as a reaction to an infection in another part of the body.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: A type of arthritis that strikes certain people with psoriasis.

After this, the updated model appeared that includes the following:

  • Axial spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) causes inflammation in the spine that incorporates ankylosing spondylitis, enteropathic arthritis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis.
  • Peripheral spondyloarthritis (pSpA): Here, inflammation and disease occur in the areas outside the spine. In addition to this, it accepts psoriatic arthritis, undifferentiated arthritis, reactive arthritis, and enteropathic arthritis.
A man suffering from back pain.

Causes and symptoms

We still don’t know what causes the disease. However, researchers have found a genetic disorder in the HLA-B27 gene. On the other hand, the number of men suffering from ankylosing spondylitis is much higher than women.

As for the symptoms, some of them are:

  • Joint inflammation and pain
  • Stiffness in movements
  • Fatigue
  • Weight reduction
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Rashes

Available treatments

Treatments include drugs, physical therapies, and surgery. The goals are to prevent irreversible damage or delay the progress of existing problems.

Thus, the drugs used are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Then, if they don’t work, doctors try tumor necrosis factor blockers and interleukin-17 inhibitors.

In addition, physical therapy plans can help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion. This helps reduce pain. With these, the specialist selects exercises based on the patient’s condition.

As a last resort, surgery is used to relieve pain and correct critical damage to the joints. However, it’s not very common.

You may be interested in: Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Arthritis?

World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day

The main push for World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day comes from Axial Spondyloarthritis International Federation (ASIF) which sets three basic goals. The focus is on raising awareness, creating appropriate information, and strengthening human connections.

Worldwide, it aims to get more people to know the risk factors, symptoms, and treatments to improve the quality of life.

Together- AxSpA and emotional well being

By 2021, it was decided that the main theme would be split into highlighting three components. So, the goals of the day are:

  • Learn: teach about patients’ mental health and promote their emotional well-being with communication tools, since negative feelings can make it worse.
  • Management: encourages daily exercise to take advantage of the psychological and physical benefits, which helps combat depression and anxiety.
  • Support: brings those affected closer to patient organizations, something that has proven to be effective to feel integrated and better understand how to deal with hard times.

How can I participate in World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day?

There are different and creative ways to participate, thanks to ASIF. Here are some of the top ways to celebrate:

  • Download official information tools like logos and posters, and share them on social networks.
  • Participate in the Walk Your AS Off virtual walking event.
  • Find out more at the Spondyloarthritis Global Summit.
  • Use tags on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter related to the central theme. Also, you can share pictures with motivating messages.
A woman looking at her social media.

Facts about axial spondyloarthritis

Here are some summary data that’s worth knowing to better understand this condition:

  • Non-medical therapies can be an effective alternative. For example, this can be moving in the pool, acupuncture, chiropractic work, and massages.
  • There are no single tests that confirm AS in a patient.
  • It affects men and women differently in terms of symptoms.
  • 95% of Caucasian individuals with AS have the HLA-B27 gene alteration.
  • There are a total of 60 genes involved in the onset of the disease.

Recognize risk factors on World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day

In conclusion, the final recommendations have to do with paying attention to the risk factors associated with the HLA-B27 gene, family history, and the presence of inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, it can also have to do with the number of pollutants and toxins that you’re exposed to.

In short, World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day allows us to continue advancing towards integration, visibility, awareness, effective treatments, and the detection of the causes once and for all.

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