Ankylosing Spondylitis in Hollywood and Miami, FL

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Serving the South Florida area with locations in Hollywood and Miami, FL

Dr. Andreas C. Tomac, MD, PhD, FAANS is a distinguished neurosurgeon specializing in diagnosing and treating ankylosing spondylitis.

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that triggers inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine, and it can also impact other joints like the knees, ankles, and hips. Typically, our spine’s joints and ligaments enable us to move and bend. However, if you have ankylosing spondylitis, the inflammation in these spinal joints and tissues can result in stiffness. In more severe instances, this stiffness might lead to the fusion (growth together) of vertebrae, resulting in a spine that becomes rigid and inflexible.

Who gets ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis can affect anyone, but certain factors may heighten the risk of developing the condition. These factors encompass:

  1. Family history and genetics: If there is a family history of ankylosing spondylitis, the likelihood of developing the disease increases.
  2. Age: While most individuals experience symptoms before the age of 45, ankylosing spondylitis can also emerge in children or teens.
  3. Other conditions: Individuals with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or psoriasis may face an elevated risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis. The presence of these related conditions can contribute to an increased susceptibility to the disease.


What are the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?

The primary symptom of ankylosing spondylitis typically involves pain and stiffness in the lower back and/or hips. Over time, these symptoms may extend to other areas of the spine or the body. Pain tends to intensify during periods of rest or inactivity, leading some individuals to experience heightened discomfort at night or after prolonged periods of sitting. Regular movement and exercise generally contribute to pain improvement.

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can vary widely from person to person. While some individuals may experience intermittent, mild episodes of pain, others may contend with chronic and severe discomfort. These symptoms, whether mild or severe, often follow a pattern of worsening during “flares” and improving during periods of remission.

Given the systemic nature of the disease, ankylosing spondylitis may present additional symptoms, including pain, stiffness, and inflammation in other joints like the ribs, shoulders, knees, or feet. Difficulty in taking deep breaths may arise if the ribs’ connecting joints are affected. Uveitis, an inflammation of the eye, can lead to vision changes and eye pain. Fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, skin rashes (especially psoriasis), and abdominal pain with loose bowel movements are also potential manifestations of the condition. The diverse array of symptoms underscores the varied impact ankylosing spondylitis can have on individuals.

Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis in Hollywood & Miami FL

How is ankylosing spondylitis diagnosed?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. Patients experiencing persistent lower back pain and stiffness are often evaluated for AS, and a detailed medical history helps identify potential risk factors. During the physical examination, Dr. Tomac and his team, may assess the range of motion, flexibility, and any signs of inflammation. To confirm the diagnosis, imaging tests such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are commonly employed to visualize the spine and detect characteristic changes associated with AS. Additionally, blood tests may be conducted to check for specific markers like the HLA-B27 gene, which is often found in individuals with an increased susceptibility to AS. The collaborative efforts of neurosurgeons and multidisciplinary healthcare teams play a crucial role in accurately diagnosing and managing Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Ankylosing Spondylitis in Hollywood & Miami FL

What treatments are available?

Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis (AS), overseen by Dr. Tomac, involves a multifaceted approach. While there’s no cure, options include NSAIDs for pain and inflammation, physical therapy to maintain flexibility, and biologics for immune system modulation. Corticosteroid injections offer short-term relief, and surgery may be considered for complications like spinal deformities. The collaborative and personalized care provided by neurosurgeons ensures a comprehensive and tailored approach to managing AS for each patient.