[submitted via Professor Ebringer 05 September, 2013. Patient diagnosed with "Pre-AS" and hopes to never advance to radiographic changes, characteristic of AS.]

Ms. Innica Halsey writes:

In 1998, I had an episode of sciatica with pains going down my left thigh. A “magnetic resonance imaging” (MRI) test showed a slipped disc which was then treated by physiotherapy.

Some six years ago, in 2000, aged 27 years, I worked as a Secretary in the Department of Rheumatology at the Middlesex Hospital in London. Occasionally I had to type some of the letters Professor Ebringer was sending to doctors about their patients who were attending his “Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Research Clinic”.

After I had typed several letters about the AS patients, it struck me they had similar complaints and symptoms that I had suffered from for several years.

They all seemed to have backaches, morning muscle stiffness and some relief after exercise. I had suffered from similar symptoms from the age of 15 years but they were never severe enough to go to a doctor, apart from the episode of sciatica. I dismissed the symptoms as due to stress or overwork and occasionally took some pain relieving tablets such as aspirin.

I mentioned my symptoms to Professor Ebringer and he agreed that the clinical presentation resembled what he had observed in some of his AS patients.

He organised a blood test for me and it showed that I was HLA-B27 POSITIVE. He provided me with a sheet describing the “London AS Low Starch Diet”. I drastically reduced my intake of pasta, of which I was particularly fond of and also consumed less bread and potatoes.

To my surprise, my backache eased and eventually disappeared. The morning muscle stiffness became less prominent and generally I felt better. Nowadays, I eat what I like, but if the backache comes back I reduce my intake of starch.

I think I can control my condition by careful attention to what I eat and exercise. I certainly do not want to become an AS patient.