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ankylosing spondylitis, dan reynolds, and practical pain management


What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?   Ankylosis is essentially a FIBROTIC or bony adhesion, usually related to INFLAMMATION, of the soft tissues that make up a joint, or of the bony joint itself.  Bone spurs, calcium deposits, and thinning joints are examples of degenerative ankylosis that are part of degenerative arthritis (OSTEOARTHRITIS).  With AS, the joints spaces don’t so much thin as they calcify.   Speaking of “degenerative,” that’s exactly what the word Spondylosis means in relationship to the vertebral column (Spondylitis is degeneration / inflammation of the spinal column).  Thus, Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory degeneration of the bones and soft tissues that make up the spine (it this way it is somewhat similar to RA), leading to degeneration and extreme calcification.  This calcification not only encompasses the spinal discs, but in some cases looks on X-ray like someone poured plaster down the spine, with copious (mega) amounts of calcification, essentially fusing the vertebrae together.

I am talking today about Ankylosing Spondylitis simply because of the story by Margaret Jaworski (Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Educates People About Ankylosing Spondylitis) in the recent issue of Practical Pain Management.  Not knowing anything about Imagine Dragons (when it comes to music, I’m definitely stuck in a TIME WARP), I realized I had heard at least one of their songs on the radio while in the car with my older kids.  One of the things that is specific to Ankylosing Spondylitis is that it is linked to several other forms of Systemic Arthritis via the HLA-B27 gene.  The thing I remember from school about this gene is the mnemonic PAIR (Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Reiters Syndrome). 

Like virtually all other similar “genetic” diseases, we find that EPIGENETICS actually plays a much bigger role than genetics.  For instance, even though a quarter of the population of northern Scandinavia are said to be carriers of the HLA-B27 gene, less than 2% actually have AS.  This is a big deal because it means that the simple fact of carrying “bad” genes does not necessarily condemn you to the disease.  Follow along as I provide a few suggestions to those dealing with Ankylosing Spondylitis that go beyond merely covering symptoms, but might actually bring about a remission.  Why getting started right away important?  The author states.

“Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help slow disease progression, which may lead to irreversible autofusing of the spine’s vertebral bodies and joints.   Often, the first symptom of AS is sacroiliitis, or inflammation of one or both of the sacroiliac joints. This inflammation can cause diffuse back pain and/or buttock pain that radiates into the thigh. However, those with AS may have other manifestations, including knee pain, dactylitis, plantar fasciitis, heel pain (especially in the morning), Achilles tendon pain, and uveitis.”

  • GENETIC TESTING: Genetic Testing continues to get both better and cheaper.  Unfortunately, research has shown that the majority of people who have genetic testing done don’t really do anything about it (I have the peer review on this but couldn’t find my link).  The point is not merely to tell you that yes, you carry a gene that can lead to a certain disease.  It’s to get you motivated to act and head as many bad things off at the pass as is humanly possible.  Furthermore, genetic testing can provide lots of information about various metabolic abnormalities.  For instance, if you happen to carry the MTHFR Mutation, you will have trouble converting the B-VITAMIN folic acid to its usable form (folate), trouble with PHASE II DETOX, and trouble converting homocystine into methionine, which is needed to make GLUTATHIONE — the body’s premier antioxidant.  Because we are learning more and more that you are not as condemned by most genetic mutations as we have historically been led to believe, knowing information like this can prove invaluable as far as proper supplementation is concerned (see links).
  • GUT HEALTH:  The authors of this article show that GUT HEALTH (or more correctly, lack of it) is a probable epigenetic trigger.  “There’s also some indication that a bacterial infection or imbalance in the gut may trigger the autoimmune response of AS in those with a genetic predisposition.”  If you want to see what “bacterial triggers” look like, look no farther than our many posts on DYSBIOSIS or ROOT CANALS.   This is why FMT is something I would absolutely recommend Dan or anyone else in his situation take a look at.  Speaking of FMT…
  • FECAL MICROBIOTA TRANSPLANT:  The new frontier in healthcare is the old frontier — the Gut.  Natural healers have been talking about healing disease by healing the Gut for just about as long as we have written history.  FMT is critical in this aspect, simply because no matter what your doctor tells you, when it comes to nasty things like AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (HERE is a list of some of the more common), simply taking probiotics isn’t going to get er done (HERE) as far as Git Health is concerned.  Once you realize that Reynolds also has Ulcerative Colitis (he was diagnosed two years prior to AS), this issue becomes that much more glaring.
  • DIET IS CRITICAL:  The author states, “Dan Reynolds is feeling good.  Right now, Reynolds is in the “healthiest place he’s been in a long time,” he said. He been off medication for over a year and hasn’t had a major flare-up in months.  In the past, he has needed to take a biologic medication to control the inflammation and pain. Since his diagnosis and treatment, he’s gone into remission a couple of times. In fact, he’s now in remission. But AS is unpredictable, he said. “Next year might be a bad year for me. I may have to go back on the biologics.  His diet isn’t particularly restrictive. He eats in moderation. He doesn’t drink alcohol and has “pretty much eliminated sugar,” he says, though he allows himself a cheat day now and then.”  Although they are frequently a miracle drug, biologics certainly have their dark side. These drugs (they almost all end in “mab”) block INFLAMMATION (IL-6, TNF-α, and others).  Because AS affects the way that antigens interact with T-CELLS, and because these biologics are another in a long line of IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPRESSORS, it might be interesting to learn what can be done to control this problem via diet.  Because sugar is massively inflammatory (HERE), cutting it out is definitely a good starting point. However, when we start talking IBD and AS — both potentially crippling autoimmune diseases — diet must go further.  For instance, are you aware of the link between Gluten and Autoimmunity (HERE).  Also, take a look at my numerous posts on PALEO to see why I feel it provides the best chance of diminishing inflammation while providing ample amounts of quality protein needed for repair, along with plenty of healthy SATURATED FATS for the proper function and repair of the nervous system.  Although the article talked quite a bit about the exercise program Reynolds is using, my opinion is that while important, diet is that much more so.
  • FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE:  The things listed above are just for starters.  What’s really cool is that if you look around, you can find a good FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST (maybe one who happens to be a FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGIST as well).  And for those of you who are wanting to go this route but feel you can’t afford it since most of these protocols are not covered by insurance, HERE you go.
  • OTHERS:  The truth is, there are almost an endless number of things that could potentially provide not only relief, but actually aid in the healing / remission process.  If money is no object (Reynold’s case), invest in the best LOW LEVEL LASER you can lay your hands on.  I would also suggest that you make yourself aware of potential triggers.  People with Autoimmune Diseases are warned to get their shots (HERE for instance) because their immune systems are so “weak”. Believe me when I tell you that vaccinations and MEDICATIONS OF ALMOST EVERY KIND (or HERE) are not strengthening the immune system and are not doing one’s Gut any favors. Truthfully, the list of potential aids to healing are almost unlimited; particularly as various forms of ENERGY MEDICINE continue to gain mainstream traction.  As for CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS, I have treated many patients over the years who have Ankylosing Spondylitis.  Most of these folks do quite will if you change your technique a bit and don’t try to forcefully “crack” their spine — particularly if the disease has progressed very much.

This post was not aimed at Dan Reynolds in any way, shape, or form.  The article from PPM simply provided a ready platform to address yet another Autoimmune Disease to my readers.  It’s an important topic because we know that a huge segment of the population (between a third and half) has at least one Autoimmune Disease, dramatically increasing their chances of developing others.  Furthermore, the starting point for dealing with most of these is essentially the same.  If you are interested in looking at similar CASE HISTORIES concerning Autoimmunity and CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES, simply click the link and start reading.


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