Steve A.'s Story:
Here is my history with Ankylosing Spondylitus (AS).
In my early 20's, I developed hip pain. I would go running in the summer and thought that may have caused it. Then my lower back started hurting. Lots of stiffness. I found that at age 23, I was having a difficult time getting in and out of a car.
I love sports, especially downhill skiing. I continued an active lifestyle, even though my back always felt stiff. At age 34, I spent 2 weeks in Colorado skiing moguls and having some major crashes. I remember at least two times my right hip slamming into a hard-packed mogul. On the last day of our trip, I woke up and could hardly walk. The pain in my right hip was extremely severe. It was a long ride back home from Colorado to Wisconsin. My limping continued for about 2 months, then went away. In the meantime, my back felt like it was getting stiffer and stiffer.
A year later, we moved to Atlanta. One day I was walking down a street and my right hip pain came back with a vengeance. I went to a Hip Specialist who took an x-ray. When showing me the x-ray, he asked if I heard of Bo Jackson. I said yes. He recently had hip replacement surgery. The doctor told me I will need my hip replaced. I was absolutely devastated. Along with my hip pain, my back and now my neck were getting more immobile. I stopped lifting weights along with many other types of physical activity. I felt fatigued all the time.
As a result of my limping, inflammation developed in some toes on my right foot. A few weeks before my scheduled hip replacement surgery, I visited the Hip Specialist. I asked that he look at the toes on my right foot. He did not seem concerned but asked that I remove my shoe and sock. He could not believe what he saw. Some of my toes were about double their normal size. He immediately set me up with a Rheumatologist.
In the meantime, I started surfing the Internet for symptoms like mine: stiff back, having to elevate myself in a sitting position when trying to sleep at night, 20 minutes or longer to get out of bed in the morning, hip pain. I came across AS. I had the same symptoms.
When I visited the Rheumatologist, he confirmed that I have AS. It was actually somewhat of a relief. I now know what was wrong with me. He prescribed Indomethacin, a nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that has been around since 1963. Soon after I started taking it, my back, neck and hip pain were greatly reduced. I cancelled the hip replacement surgery.
It is now 12 years later. I workout all the time and continue to ski. I have stayed on the Indomethacin and it has worked very well for me. My right hip still flares up once in a while, but it's still my original hip.
Knock on wood....I feel healthy!