Van Nuys, July 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a crippling form of arthritis that generally strikes young people in their teens and twenties, sometimes even earlier. Left untreated, it causes pain, disability and can eventually cause the spinal vertebrae to fuse together forming one brittle bone, often in a stooped over position.
There is no cure for AS. But there are effective treatments that can greatly improve quality of life and increase the chances of a positive outcome. The key to obtaining these treatments is early diagnosis.
The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) has developed a validated online questionnaire that will help evaluate a person’s likelihood of having AS, so that they may seek a diagnosis and pursue appropriate, life-changing treatment. SAA is also releasing new Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in an effort to raise awareness about the disease and the availability of the online tool.
In the PSA, 20 year-old Tyler Walker, whose AS symptoms began at age 9, describes some of the early warning signs and symptoms of AS.
Ankylosing spondylitis is considered the most overlooked cause of persistent back pain in young adults yet it is often dismissed as “growing pains” or as “overdoing it”. Because of this, the average delay from onset of symptoms to definitive diagnosis is 7 to 10 years. Years in which the damage is progressing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that AS and its related diseases affect as many as 2.4 million people in the US, and many do not even know it.
“Our biggest challenge is to create awareness of the disease, so people who have persistent back pain can seek an accurate diagnosis, especially young people,” says Laurie Savage, SAA’s Executive Director. “Because most of the damage caused by ankylosing spondylitis occurs in the first 10 years, early diagnosis means early treatment to improve quality of life.”
At the end of the PSA, Tyler invites people who are experiencing persistent low back pain to visit www.BackPainTest.org to fill out a brief survey that will assess their symptoms and recommend next steps. For more information, people can also call SAA’s toll-free information line at 800-777-8189.
About Ankylosing Spondylitis
Spondylitis is the term used to refer to a group of chronic, inflammatory diseases that generally strike young people between the ages of 15 and 35. Typically, spondylitis causes pain and stiffness and, in the most severe cases, can result in a total fusion of the spine and/or neck, leading to disability. Although spondylitis primarily affects the spine, it is not uncommon for the disease to impact the joints of the shoulders, hips, knees and feet, as well as cause inflammation of the eye. More rarely, because AS is a systemic (whole body) condition, other organs such as the heart and lungs can also become involved.
About the Spondylitis Association of America
The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) is the only nonprofit organization in the US dedicating all of its resources to improving the lives of people with ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Established in 1983, SAA is committed to increasing awareness of spondylitis, providing information and support to patients and their families, and ultimately, working to uncover a cure for the disease.
SAA produces the most comprehensive library of spondylitis resources available in the US — including books, DVDs, CDs, brochures and other publications; an 800-page interactive website, spondylitis.org; a quarterly, advertising-free news magazine, and a network of nationwide Educational Support Groups to educate and support people living with this chronic illness.
At the forefront of every major milestone achieved in spondylitis education, research and advocacy in the last 25 years, you will find the Spondylitis Association of America.
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news and information regarding AS and related diseases with our news magazine, Spondylitis Plus. Your subscription comes free with SAA membership, so click here to join today!