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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Osterhout Berger Daley > Disabling Conditions > Ankylosing Spondylitis

There are some medical conditions that can make working more difficult or impossible. For instance, ankylosing spondylitis is a medical condition that can make it impossible to stand up straight, and breathing can even become more difficult. People who have been diagnosed with this condition and are having more difficulties performing their job or even daily personal tasks might be wondering what kind of Social Security benefits they’re likely to receive if they make a claim. Finding a qualified attorney can improve the success rate of applicants. Otherwise, people who have not yet been diagnosed might wonder if their symptoms will be diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis. Here is some more information that can help you make informed decisions.

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondolytis is a medical condition in which the small bones of the spine to fuse, causing significant and sometimes debilitating structural changes to the skeletal structures, particularly in the spine. It’s an inflammatory disease and a type of arthritis, and it can cause a person to hunch over after the bones have broken and fused. People with ankylosing spondylitis have spines that are less flexible because the new bone grows in between vertebrae, which causes the person to feel stiffness, especially in the morning and after other prolonged periods of rest.

If the ribs are affected by the condition, they will begin to fuse together, including the breastbone and the cartilage around it. And if the ribs begin to fuse together, it’s more likely that the ribs will constrict breathing. It’s also a progressive disease, so symptoms can worsen over time as more bones become fused.

In general, ankylosing spondylitis affects men more than women. Usually onset of the disease will be in late adolescence to early adulthood, so adults who are in their 30s and older who don’t yet have any symptoms or diagnoses have less reason to be concerned about it. There’s also a hereditary component, with the HLA-B27 gene linked to ankylosing spondylitis, so people with a family member who have the disorder are more likely to get it than people who don’t already have a family member with the disorder.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondolytis

The symptoms that a person with anykylosing spondolytis experiences will be somewhat dependent on the individual and the degree to which the disease has progressed. People who are just beginning to develop symptoms will likely experience stiffness in the neck and spine, especially after prolonged periods of inactivity. Pain and stiffness in the morning is also common. Symptoms might not be constant at this stage. In fact, it’s very common for the symptoms to stop for periods of time at this stage.

Although the spine is the most common place that’s affected, there are a few other areas that can be affected, including the back of the heel. Some other common places that are affected include the hips, breastbone cartilage, and shoulder joints.

Eye problems can also become common. For instance, a person might notice that eye pain suddenly occurs, and they might also notice that they have blurred vision or sensitivity to light. This is due to inflammation that reaches the eyes. Eyes also become red if there’s inflammation in them.

People with ankylosing spondolytis are also more likely to experience compression fractures because their bones thin during the early stages of the disorder. Because the bones are thinner, they’re more likely to break. If they do, the stooped over posture can also cause damage to the nerves and spinal cord, which both run through the center of the spine.

Some people with this disease might also experience decreased mobility from the wearing away of bone and hunched posture that the person is forced into. They might also experience fever and chronic fatigue because of inflammation.

Finally, people with this disease might also experience problems with their aortic heart valve. When a person has ankylosing spondolytis, the heart can become inflamed, leading the aortic valve to become distorted and lose functionality.

Treatment for Ankylosing Spondolytis

People who are ready for treatment will want to know what their options include. One of the most common types of treatments includes medication, which can include one or more of several types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For instance, one common over-the-counter drug is naproxen. These types of drugs can help relieve the inflammation so that the person has less pain and stiffness, but people also need to be careful when taking this class of drugs because too much of it can cause stomach bleeding.

Another common type of treatment is physical therapy, which can help keep bones and ligaments more limber and lessen the amount of stiffness and pain that the person feels. Physical therapy can also strengthen the muscles so that less strain is placed on the spine because the muscles are better supporting the frame.

A third type of treatment that a person with ankylosing spondolytis might receive is surgery. Generally speaking, surgery isn’t given to people with this disease, but it might be if the person is experiencing severe pain or if the person has enough damage to their hips that they need to be replaced.

Doctors might also suggest a treatment of self-care that includes physical exercise, including aerobic exercise. This type of treatment can often be done in tandem with physical therapy and could be as little as 20 to 30 minutes per day up to five days per week.

Disability Benefits for Ankylosing Spondolytis

People with ankylosing spondolytis might wonder what options are available for them if they’re having difficulties working. The types of benefits that are available to someone with this disease will vary according to the severity of the symptoms, but regardless, the person with the disease needs to put together a full account of how ankylosing spondolytis affects their life and what kinds of treatments they’ve already tried.

One way that you can qualify for benefits under the Blue Book guidelines is if you have a dorsolumbar or cervical spine with more than 45 degrees of flexion from the vertical position. Otherwise, people can qualify if they have a dorsolumbar or cervical spine with a flexion of more than 30 and more than 45 degrees when in a vertical position.

If a person doesn’t technically meet the requirements for disability insurance, there’s another way that they can document the disease and receive benefits. A doctor needs to perform a residual functioning capacity test, which states which activities the person is capable of and which ones they’re incapable of doing.

People who are unable to stand for long periods of time might no longer be able to do many jobs that have this requirement. There are also some types of activities that could restrict a person from performing any kind of work, such as fevers and fatigue. The Social Security Administration will then determine if there is any work that’s suitable for the applicant. If there isn’t, then the applicant receives benefits.

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