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Bernard asked...

My doctor has diagnosed spondylitis

My doctor has diagnosed spondylitis after I complained of numbness in my fingers and siaticka in my legs. He had an ex ray taken and told me that confirmed his diagnosis. He told me it is a problem related to my age ( 77 ) and nothing can be done about it. He said some specialists may recommend an operation but he said it would be a dangerous procedure he would not recommend as he knew many cases who where worse than before they underwent it. is there anything that can help me live with this condition or improve it without surgery ?

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The answer

I am sorry to hear about your problems, it is clearly a worrying time for you. Spondylitis is more commonly seen in older people and can give rise to a variety of symptoms. Sufferers very commonly complain of pain, stiffness, problems with walking and numbness and tingling in their upper limbs such as you have been experiencing yourself. Treatment is aimed at reducing these symptoms and there are a variety of medications that can be given such as short term steroid therapy, or NSAIDs, (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication). Not everyone is suitable to take these however and prescribing is dependent on taking a person’s individual medical history into account. More recently there are a newer generation of biological therapies that are also being used with seemingly good results. 

It is possible your GP isn’t able to prescribe these as they are usually given by specialists in the field, in this instance an orthopaedic specialist for example. Physiotherapy is also thought to be very helpful in maintaining joint function and minimising stiffness and pain and is an avenue you may well like to explore. Your GP can make a referral on the NHS or you may choose to obtain the services of a physiotherapist privately in your area. They would be able to visit you in your home and set up a programme of exercises, activity and monitoring of your progress. This can be useful as spondylitis is a condition that can have flare ups when the symptoms become more acute followed by periods where the symptoms aren’t so severe. 

Under the circumstances and given your history and symptoms and the fact that you have recently been diagnosed  it may well be worthwhile asking for a referral to an orthopaedic specialist both to manage your symptoms and to make a detailed assessment of the spondylitis present. They should then be able to recommend any medical therapies such as those described above which may help you and relieve some of your symptoms. 

You might also like to look at the following website for The Arthritis Association in the UK. For further information and support about this condition.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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