Interim President, Canadian Spondylitis Association
Moving away to university is supposed to be an exciting time. For me, it was the start of a long journey to being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. Arthritis is a common condition that many Canadians live with, and that’s generally associated with finger, wrist, or ankle pain. Axial spondylitis or ankylosing spondylitis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that results in a gradual onset of spinal pain and stiffness and a long delay from the onset of pain until receiving a diagnosis. I was lucky, being diagnosed in four years.
Spondylitis is a disease that doesn’t discriminate.
Spondylitis is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. The condition affects both men and women, often early in their adult life and, if untreated, damage is irreversible and can be severely disabling. The good news is that young people, such as myself, and the newly-diagnosed are now able to access a wide variety of treatment options.
Medications range from traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to disease-modifying rheumatic drugs to revolutionary modern biologics. When these medications are combined with exercise, a healthy diet, meditation, and, in the most severe cases, surgery, spondylitis patients are generally able to live productive lives with reduced pain. However, many patients don’t have access to the treatment options that they need.
Organizations like the Canadian Spondylitis Association are essential in helping to support patients in living well with their spondylitis. The association is committed to raising awareness, providing direct support, developing educational tools, and advocating for accessible treatment options.