Ankylosing Spondylitis and Other Autoimmune Disorders

We Can Turn The Tide

Paul A. Goldberg MPH,DC,DACBN,DCBCN 

In a somewhat morbid sense, it is fascinating to see how the list of “auto-immune” diseases continues to expand. When writing my Thesis entitled “A Biological Approach to Autoimmune Disorders” at the University of Texas in 1978, most sources listed 40 to 50 autoimmune disorders. Today the list varies from 80 to over 160. New diseases? No, these are new symptoms affecting different areas produced by increasing environmental, nutritional, lifestyle and pharmaceutically induced alterations in our species. We start our journey at birth with over 64 trillion potential differences between us based on genetics. Add environmental variations introduced from pharmaceuticals, altered food products, toxic chemicals, radiation, electric fields and a myriad of biologically altering lifestyle variations now influencing us and the affects become mind boggling. If one grows up with the changes, the drugs, the altered foods, the cellular world, it seems normal for the new abnormal is being swept into the realm of normalcy. 

Part of this maladaptation to the new but not improved world is a massive increase in autoimmune disorders. Ankylosing Spondylitis is one of them.

AS is characterized as an autoimmune disorder, similar to RA but targeting the spine. In those afflicted, bridging forms from vertebra to vertebra till, in advanced cases, the spine become solidified and rigid as opposed to having individual, mobile vertebra (see images below). The SI joints tend to fuse and the patient’s mobility can be severely limited, reduced to a fraction of what it would normally be, with the muscles, ligaments and tendons likewise affected. The “disease” is also known as Marie Strumpell Disease.

Radiograph of A.S. Patient. Bony Bridging. 

Radiograph of A.S. Patient. Bony Bridging. 

This, however, is not a problem confined to the spine. The body is affected systemically, particularly the joints, eyes, cardiovascular system and GI tract. Patients often find themselves seeing a rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, and ophthalmologist all prescribing many of the same drugs including NSAIDS, Steroids (see article "Problems with Prednisone"), pain killers and TNF Alpha Suppressing agents that carry with them dangerous side effects including cancer and serious infections (see article "The Dangers of Biological Drugs). The patient is advised that their condition is progressive and “incurable.” This is the standard line within the Medical Profession from your local corner M.D. to the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics.

Indeed under medical care the “condition” is incurable as drugging the patient does not provide any health promoting affect nor address causal factors. The medical profession points out that 95% of the people so diagnosed express the HLA-B27 antigen. This is of no help to the patient’s attempts at recovery for medically the condition is "incurable" and taking a medical approach to these issues makes that a virtual certainty.

The first mistake is assuming that all patients diagnosed with “AS” are the same. They are not. They can have a genetic tendency towards the disease but that does not doom them to have the problem. Other people have the HLA-B27 antigen and do not exhibit signs of A.S. Our genetics is not our destiny...not by a long shot. Environmental/Nutritional/Biochemical Factors can turn genes on and off. Under the right conditions, which differ from patient to patient, individuals can modify the way their genes are expressed. How this is done differs, depending on individual factors, requiring a thorough evaluation of the individual patient.

The routine prescribing of steroids, painkillers and immunosuppressant agents by medical professionals for autoimmune disorders, is, in my opinion, a tragedy and dooms these persons to a life of ongoing degeneration and little hope.

It has been my long experience, including my own case, that most patients with A.S. can be improved. In cases where the etiological factors are identified and the causes addressed the progressive nature of the disease, like other autoimmune issues, can be halted and in most cases significant reversals of the patient’s illness can be made (see video interviews with two of our patients to the right). This requires hard work on the part of the patient. The earlier the patient begins their journey back to health the better. Cases of advanced bridging of vertebra can be assisted but the farther the disease has progressed the less the opportunity for a full recovery. Nonetheless, overall improvements in vitality, increases in mobility and reduction of pain without the use of drugs are frequently possible even in advanced cases with a motivated patient willing to undergo a thorough evaluation and do the hard work needed.

Incurable? Yes, under medical care. Is it impossible for patients with autoimmune conditions to regain their vitality? Only if we are going down the wrong road, for no matter how far we travel down the wrong road we will never reach our destination.

Taking the right road by seeking out and addressing causes and establishing the right conditions for health along with being perseverant can lead to remarkable improvements in A.S. and other autoimmune conditions. I have witnessed this repeatedly in Recreating the Health of motivated patients with autoimmune disorders for over 40 years.

Related articles by the Goldberg Clinic:

1)  Reversing Rheumatoid Arthritis
2) Tackling Inflammatory Bowel Disease
3) Problems with Prednisone: Why Inflammation is Not the Enemy
4) The Dangers of Biological Drugs (part I)
5) The Dangers of Biological Drugs (part II)