Can Ankylosing Spondylitis Be Fixed with Surgery?

Medically Reviewed by NJ Spine & Orthopedic on June 16, 2024

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease primarily affecting the spine and sacroiliac joints. People suffering from this condition experience severe back pain and stiffness, often leading to significant discomfort and a reduced quality of life. A common question for those afflicted with AS is whether surgery can offer a permanent solution. While surgery is not typically the first line of treatment for AS, it can be considered in severe cases where conservative treatments have failed to provide relief.

At NJ Spine, we understand the complexities of ankylosing spondylitis and the profound impact it can have on your daily life. Our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to your specific needs. We offer a range of minimally invasive surgical options designed to alleviate pain and restore function, allowing you to regain control of your life.

Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is characterized by inflammation that can cause the vertebrae in your spine to fuse over time. This fusion results in a loss of flexibility, which can lead to a hunched-forward posture and chronic pain. The disease primarily affects the spine but can also impact other joints and organs, including the eyes, heart, and lungs. Early symptoms often include persistent back pain and stiffness, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

The exact cause of AS remains unknown, but genetics play a significant role, with the HLA-B27 gene being a notable risk factor. Diagnosis typically involves a combination of physical examinations, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs, and blood tests to check for inflammatory markers. Early detection and intervention are crucial in managing the symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease.

Non-Surgical Treatments for AS

Before considering surgery, various non-surgical treatments are usually recommended to manage ankylosing spondylitis. These treatments aim to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and improve or maintain flexibility. Common non-surgical interventions include:

  1. Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often the first line of treatment to reduce pain and inflammation. For more severe cases, biologic medications such as TNF inhibitors or IL-17 inhibitors may be prescribed to target specific pathways in the immune system.
  2. Physical Therapy: Regular exercise and physical therapy are crucial in maintaining flexibility and strength. A physical therapist can develop a tailored exercise program that includes stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercises to help manage symptoms.
  3. Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining good posture, avoiding smoking, and practicing stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation can also be beneficial. Dietary changes, including anti-inflammatory diets, may help manage symptoms for some individuals.

By incorporating these non-surgical treatments, individuals with ankylosing spondylitis can effectively manage their condition and maintain a better quality of life.

When Is Surgery Considered?

Surgery for ankylosing spondylitis is generally considered when non-surgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief or when the disease has led to severe structural damage. The primary surgical options include:

  1. Spinal Osteotomy: This procedure involves cutting and realigning the spine to correct severe deformities, such as a hunched-forward posture. It is a complex surgery requiring precise planning and execution but can significantly improve the quality of life for patients with severe spinal deformities.
  2. Joint Replacement: In cases where AS has caused significant damage to peripheral joints like the hips, joint replacement surgery can be performed. This procedure involves replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one, thereby reducing pain and improving mobility.
  3. Spinal Fusion: While spinal fusion is often a result of the natural progression of AS, surgical spinal fusion can be performed to stabilize the spine and alleviate pain in specific cases. This procedure involves permanently joining two or more vertebrae to reduce pain and prevent further deformity.

These surgical interventions are considered after thorough evaluation and are tailored to the specific needs and conditions of the patient. They aim to enhance mobility, reduce pain, and improve overall functionality.

Benefits and Risks of Surgical Treatment

Surgery for ankylosing spondylitis can offer significant benefits, including pain relief, improved posture, and enhanced mobility. However, it is important to weigh these benefits against the potential risks and complications associated with surgical procedures. Possible risks include infection, blood loss, nerve damage, and the need for additional surgeries in the future.

Recovery from surgery varies depending on the type of procedure performed and the overall health of the patient. Post-surgical rehabilitation, including physical therapy and lifestyle adjustments, plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful outcome and long-term benefits.

Can Surgery Help You?

Determining whether surgery is the right option for managing ankylosing spondylitis involves a thorough evaluation by a specialized medical team. Factors such as the severity of the disease, the degree of spinal deformity, and the patient’s overall health must be considered. Consulting with experienced spine surgeons and rheumatologists is essential to develop a personalized treatment plan that aligns with your specific needs and goals.

NJ Spine is dedicated to offering comprehensive care for individuals with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Our award-winning team of surgeons and medical staff utilizes cutting-edge technology and minimally invasive techniques to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients. If you are considering surgical options for AS, our team is here to guide you through every step of the process.

Why Choose NJ Spine & Orthopedic for Your AS Surgery?

At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, we provide top-quality care using the latest advancements in medical technology. Our minimally invasive surgical techniques are designed to reduce discomfort, minimize scarring, and speed up recovery times, allowing you to return to your daily activities much sooner. We understand dealing with ankylosing spondylitis is challenging, and we are committed to helping you achieve the best possible quality of life.

Patients from all over the nation trust NJ Spine for our skills and patient-centered approach. Our Concierge Team is available to assist with travel arrangements and accommodations, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience. If you are considering surgery for ankylosing spondylitis, contact us today at (866) 553-0612 or visit our contact form. Let us help you take the first step towards a pain-free future.

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