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Is Surgery Used to Treat Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Most people with ankylosing spondylitis do not need surgery. Surgery may be considered in severe cases when a person has:
 
  • Significant forward flexion (i.e., the chin is almost touching the chest)
  • An unstable spine
  • Neurological symptoms, such as:
 
    • Loss of bowel or bladder function
    • Pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs or feet
 
 
People who develop heart valve problems with ankylosing spondylitis may need an aortic valve replacement.
 
Surgery is not for everyone, however, and the decision to operate should be made only after careful consideration by affected person and his or her doctor. Together, they should discuss the person's overall health, the condition of the area that will be operated on, and the reason for, as well as the risks and benefits of, the surgical procedure.
 

Routine Monitoring and Ongoing Treatment

Regular medical care is necessary to monitor the course of a person's ankylosing spondylitis, determine the effectiveness and any negative effects of medications, and change therapies as needed. Monitoring typically includes regular visits to the doctor. It may also include blood, urine, and other laboratory tests, as well as x-rays.
 
As part of his or her long-term, ongoing care, a person with ankylosing spondylitis may want to talk with his or her healthcare provider about preventing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weakened and fragile. Having ankylosing spondylitis increases the risk of developing osteoporosis for both men and women. Such people may want to talk with their doctors about the potential benefits of:
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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