Colorado Springs, CO
I am a 24 year old female and was diagnosed with AS in November 2012. My symptoms began about a year before that. They began as some hip pain. I would get sharp pain in my hip and glutes when walking. I thought that I had pulled a muscle, got a ligament caught, or something like that. I went to the doctor, my D.O., and he gave me numerous explanations as to why I was feeling the pain that I was. The first time I went, he said that my hips were out of alignment and were causing my muscles to seize. He gave me an adjustment and I felt much better. I then continued to see him over the course of many months, and my visits started to become more frequent. He stated that I had uneven muscle development in my back and hips. He recommended a specific type of yoga called Iyengar. Iyengar focuses on body alignment and awareness. I continue to practice this yoga regularly and find it to be one of the best treatments for range of mobility and pain prevention.
During this time I was regularly trying out chiropractic adjustments, but I found the adjustments I got from the D.O. were more specific and beneficial for my body. I did get X-rays at one of my chiropractor visits. The X-ray showed that I have an 8 degree curve in my back, or minor scoliosis. My D.O. told me that this was most likely a result of that uneven muscle definition, and that many people have minor scoliosis.
Due to a change in insurance, I began seeing another D.O. in that practice. I told her about what I had been going through and how the pain had become more frequent. She decided that it was time to do physical therapy. I did physical therapy for nearly 4 months. I got most benefit out of the adjustments, needling, and ultrasound, but some stabilizing exercises seem to still help today. I also happened to be lucky enough to have an amazing therapist who cared about my case and was able to identify that my pain was coming from my SI joints, and likely from inflammation in those joints.
When physical therapy did not produce as much progress as my D.O. had hoped, and my flares continued to happen (and got worse), she decided imaging was the next step. I had an MRI of my lumbar spine and my sacrum. I had a bulging disc in my L4 vertebrae, but most concerning was the bilateral inflammation in my SI joints. My pain had been mostly on my left side, so my doctor did not know that both joints were inflamed. She told me that this may be a result of an inflammatory condition and I should get a blood test. Sure enough, I tested positive for HLA-B27. She told me this was consistent with Ankylosing Spondylitis and that I needed to see a Rheumatologist.
My Rheumatologist has been great and was very patient in answering all of my questions. Because my aunt has Crohn’s, he said that I could have a different spondyloarthropathy. Specifically, one that is linked to inflammatory bowel disease. I was prescribed Meloxicam (generic for Mobic) and it has made a huge difference in helping prevent my flares. I had a CT scan, EDG, and colonoscopy. It was determined that I do not have Crohn’s, but that the NSAIDs were already creating small ulcers in my terminal ileum. My GI told me that I should know that NSAIDs are not a long term treatment option. I lowered my dose from 14mg to 7.5 mg and seem to be doing well.
I love to be active, and right now I am trying to use that to my advantage. My Rheumy tells me that range of motion exercises will be the real life saver in battling this disease. I love Iyengar yoga and encourage other AS patients to explore it. I am lucky enough to have an amazing teacher that I work with one on one. I also love to swim, bike, hike, walk my dogs, and enjoy the Colorado mountain air. Most days I wake up stiff and feel extremely tired, but I find that the more I move, the better I feel. I try to take it all one day at a time, but it can get overwhelming to think about losing range of motion or missing out on days due to the intense pain. I refuse to let fear and uncertainty take away from the life I am blessed with today. I am also currently experimenting with an anti-inflammatory and low starch diet.
I have started a blog (carrglick.blogspot.com). Feel free to follow along! Stand tall 🙂
Colorado, United States of America