Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-term inflammatory joint disease which normally affects the spine, but could impact any joints in the body as well as various other organ systems. The name ‘ankylosing’ means a fusing of the joints and ‘spondylitis’ refers to the spine. The disease impacts on about 0.1-0.2% of the population and tends to affect males more frequently. It typically just begins as an pain in the lower back that is actually the same in signs and symptoms to almost every other common back problem so is generally treated as such. Frequently, this approach will fail and other approaches get used. Inevitably, when additional signs and symptoms occur in various other joints there may be further investigation leading to the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. This process may take many years before the diagnosis gets made. The standard approach to treatment for this is to use drugs to address the inflammatory process in the joint along with physical therapy to help keep the spine mobile and flexible.
Ankylosing spondylitis has an effect on the foot often. The first way is that the joint inflammation process can affect the joints in the feet and cause pain there. Heel spurs or plantar fasciitis is very common in those with Ankylosing spondylitis. This type of heel pain is not the common one that you get since it is part of the disease process, therefore tends to not respond adequately to the conventional methods of dealing with heel pain. Like the arthritis which affects the joints in the feet, the therapy is mainly directed at the medications that suppress the inflammatory response. Another way that ankylosing spondylitis has an effect on the foot is indirect. Since the significant signs and symptoms of the disease are in the spine, the lower as well as upper back become very restricted in motion, so those with ankylosing spondylitis tend to have trouble bending down to reach their feet. Because of this they are unable to even do basic things like trim their own nails or self-care for their feet. They’re also going to have issues managing different conditions that affect the foot. They will often need to visit a podiatrist regularly for foot care and maintenance of foot health and for the regular management of any foot issues that might occur.