Evan Glenn Vista, Philippine Rheumatology Association (PRA) board member, said back pain may sometimes signal a more serious health condition leading to permanent disability.
Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP
1 million Pinoys afflicted with chronic back pain — group
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Don’t just ignore back pain, medical specialists warned yesterday.

Evan Glenn Vista, Philippine Rheumatology Association (PRA) board member, said back pain may sometimes signal a more serious health condition leading to permanent disability.

“Not all back pains are the same. If (the pain) is for more than three months, that is something serious,” Vista noted.

According to Vista, chronic back pain can sometimes be an indication that one is afflicted with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) also known as back attack.

There is no available data on the national prevalence of AS, but Vista said it is estimated that between one to two percent of the country’s population or roughly a million Filipinos are afflicted with the serious condition.

Vista said AS is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. If not diagnosed early, it can cause complications affecting the different organs and mobility.

Among the symptoms of the illness are fever, weight loss, localized bone pain and nocturnal pain and extremity weakness.

Vista stressed the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of AS, which commonly affects the patients in their productive years.

Rheumatologists said early diagnosis and treatment can help control the pain as well as delay progression of the disease and prevent significant deformity.

“The primary aim of early detection is for us to be able to do something as soon as possible or it may come to a point that we cannot do much,” Vista said.

Vista also said the disease can cause irreversible damage if not diagnosed and treated early.

AS Association of the Philippines president Clark Ferrer said he was living in pain, but it took almost eight years before he was diagnosed with the illness.

Ferrer said he had just graduated from college when doctors confirmed that he was suffering from AS and it had affected his heart. 

“The pain is impossible to ignore,” Ferrer said as he expressed hope that new treatment and technology would be available to enable AS patients to live normal lives.

BACK PAIN PHILIPPINE RHEUMATOLOGY ASSOCIATION
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