Tackling Ankylosing Spondylitis Complications

Get Help for Sleep Disturbances, Depression, and Anxiety

If you have physical symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS)—a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the spine and other parts of the body—you may be well aware of the emotional effects of the condition, too.  

Girl depressed and looking out a windowIf you have physical symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, you may be well aware of the emotional effects of the condition too. A new study published online in October 2012 confirms that people with AS are at risk for complications such as sleep problems, depression, and anxiety. Like the physical aspects of AS, there are ways to address the emotional complications of the condition. You will learn more about how to get help after a brief explanation the study.

A team of researchers explored the relationship between sleep disturbances and factors such as pain levels and mental health in patients with AS. The study, “Sleep disturbances are associated with increased pain, disease activity, depression, and anxiety in ankylosing spondylitis: a case-control study,” appears in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.

How the Study Was Conducted
Patients with AS were matched with patients in a control group (who did not have AS) based on their age and gender. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their health and sleep disturbances. Additionally, blood samples were taken from both groups. The researchers used statistical models to assess the relationships between sleep patterns, levels of pain, depression, anxiety, disease activity, and patients’ functional status.

What the Researchers Found
The study results showed that 184 of the 314 patients with AS had a high risk for sleep disturbances. Sleep problems were significantly worse in the AS group than in the control group. The researchers also found that sleep disturbances were associated with patients’ age and education, levels of depression and anxiety, the amount of morning stiffness experienced, and patients’ overall health and pain levels.

The study authors conclude that sleep disturbances in patients with AS may be more common than previously expected, and that depression, pain, and anxiety may be major contributors to these disturbances.

What this Ankylosing Spondylitis Study Means for You
Besides the physical symptoms of pain, tenderness, and stiffness that mark AS, you may also experience complications such as problems with sleep, depression, and anxiety. Both physical and emotional symptoms can take a toll on your quality of life; make sure to talk to your healthcare professional about all of your symptoms so that he or she can help you develop a plan for tackling them.

To learn more about surgical and non-surgical treatments for AS, visit our Ankylosing Spondylitis Center.

Updated on: 03/08/18
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What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
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What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by pain and progressive stiffness. It mainly affects the spine, but it can affect other areas of the body, too. Get an overview of this spinal condition here.
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