When 59-year-old Grant repeatedly complained of back pain, his wife thought it was an old sports injury playing up.
Turns out, Grant had a rare form of arthritis known as Ankylosing Spondlyitis (AS). Today, his very personal message is, “Don’t turn your back on unexplained pain”.
AS is described by doctors as inflammation of the spinal joints. It can also affect other parts of the body, like your pelvis, eyes, hands, feet and gut.
Unfortunately AS is often misdiagnosed, meaning that patients needlessly suffer with back pain for an average of 10 years. Grant suffered for 30 years before receiving proper treatment.
If left unmanaged, AS can lead to back stiffening and changes in the spine. For Grant, AS meant that he missed special moments as his children were growing up.
He was unable to play with them, and was relegated to anti-inflammatory medications. Grant also had to give up football, which was his life’s passion.
Without a proper diagnosis, Grant’s wife suffered too. She needed to sleep in a separate bed, because Grant would toss and turn all night with back pain.
On one occasion, Grant’s symptoms became so detrimental that he was rushed to hospital. It was only then that his AS was properly recognised. Today though, Grant can manage his symptoms.
Living with a proper AS diagnosis has changed Grant’s whole life. Now he’s able to play with his beautiful grandchild, and restore some of those family moments he missed out on.
According to Sydney rheumatologist Dr Irwin Lim (who is working in conjunction with pharmaceutical researcher AbbVie), Grant is not alone in his experiences.
“Men with unresolved back pain may feel they’re suffering in silence”, Dr Lim explained. “But quite the opposite – the health of their relationships and family life may also suffer”.
“Young men typically live in denial with persistent back pain, unaware that the longer diagnosis is delayed the more severe the condition could become”.
“‘Don’t Turn Your Back On It’ is an important call to action for people suffering with persistent back pain to seek help from their GP”, Dr Lim added.
“Early diagnosis will lead to the most appropriate treatment and restore quality of life for people experiencing persistent back pain, which can often be treatable”.
For more information about Ankylosing Spondlyitis visit: dontturnyourbackonit.com.au
Grant and his beautiful grandchild!