This morning I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) which is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints in your spine. Spondylitis simply means inflammation of the spine.
As part of the body’s reaction to inflammation, calcium is laid down where the ligaments attach to the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae). This reduces the flexibility of your back and causes new bone to grow at the sides of the vertebrae. Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine and the vertebrae. Most people with the disease experience chronic back pain and loss of flexibility in the spine. However, ankylosing spondylitis can also affect joints outside the spine, including the shoulders, feet, knees, and hips. In rare cases, it can also affect organs and tissue. Eventually the individual bones of the spine may link up (fuse). This is called ankylosis and can be seen on x-rays and is often referred to as ‘Bamboo Back’!
Last year I started with a pain and stiffness in my thoracic area and base of my neck which was a lot worse in the morning, this slowly got worse and at first I thought it was our mattress and so tried different ones! Sixth mattress later and still no difference apart from the wife getting fed up of with me, I even tried changing cars with no improvement. Then the pain and stiffness spread around my shoulders, chest, lower back and hips and just gradually got worse to the point that I could no longer run, I struggled to get out of my car and my neck seemed permanently cricked! All the while visiting my Doctor and getting various prescriptions to try; but to no avail apart from the Naproxen which did help a little, however my stomach was not agreeing! I had an MRI last January that did not show any visible issues apart from some worn facet joints in my neck and again told to look at physiotherapy.
It is so frustrating trying to work out what is wrong with you, you try all sorts of remedies but with no success!!
Then in August the pain had just gotten so bad and the lack of sleep I was having from the pain waking me up, I pushed my Doctor to see a specialist rhumatologist as I had read about Ankylosing Spondylitis(although I had already tested negative for the HLA B27 gene)! This time I had a full spinal MRI and following the results the rhumatologist confirmed Ankylosing Spondylitis (3rd Sept 16)). [*bleep*]! He gave me a steroid injection which by the following day had eased all my symptoms and now I was prescribed Meloxicam to take which again I wasn’t happy with!!!
Finally though I have now got a diagnosis which I can get on with and manage! The good thing is I will still be able to ride my bike, however it is unlikely that I will be doing any big mileages or races again.
I took to the internet and started reading as much info as I could to see what else I could do and I happened to drop across the video Fat Sick and Nearly Dead which triggered something in me with respect to diet (worth a watch if you haven’t seen it). This lead me to reading more on diet and autoimmune diseases and then I came across Dr Alan Ebringer’s research into Ankylosing Spondylitis and a low starch diet!
This diet is based on research by Dr. Alan Ebringer, Professor of Immunology at King’s College London. He is the lead figure in a group of researchers who have been working on the theory that some types of klebsiella bacteria in the gut of people with Ankylosing Spondylitis are involved in triggering the disease process via a complex immune response.
In 1996, in a paper supporting his theory, Dr. Ebringer published the chart of one of the patients that he had been following over a period of time. The patient’s erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) showed a clear decline over the time he had followed the diet (1983-1995). ESR is a measure of inflammation and Dr. Ebringer believes that the lowering of the patient’s ESR demonstrated the success of this diet.
My new toy the Sage Nutri Juicer – 1200W
Now for me the next step is to look at doing a 10 day juice fast to help reset my system, detox and then look to aim for a virtually ‘No Starch Diet’ (NSD). I have also read up on Apple Cider Vinegar which I believe can also alleviate symptoms, so will look to include going forward.
So to date my main symptoms are as follows;
- Stiff inflamed neck
- Inflamed rib cage
- Stiff inflamed hips and SI joints
- Stiff inflamed knees
- Sore and inflamed right heel
- Sore eyes
I will try and document my progress to share with others, please let me know if you are on a similar journey.