If you have ankylosing spondylitis — a form of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine — you may also have a higher risk for spinal fractures, even after seemingly minor traumas.
“[With ankylosing spondylitis], new bony spurs form and cause the vertebrae to fuse together, robbing your spine of mobility and leaving it vulnerable to fractures,” says Susan Goodman, MD, a rheumatologist with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
“It’s paradoxical in a sense as the disease process is characterized by the proliferation of bone — the amount of bone is increasing, but when we look at trabecular bone, we can see it is really quite weak,” says Dr. Goodman. Trabecular bone comprises the bone’s inner layer and has a spongy structure, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
In addition, up to half of all people with ankylosing spondylitis also have osteoporosis, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Osteoporosis can lead to weakened bones and increase the risk of spinal fracture.
That’s why it’s important to find ways to preserve your bone strength and lower your risk of injury. Here’s how to get started.