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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Felicia Fibro - Life with fibromyalgia, EMPOWERED!

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Apples and Ankylosing Spondylitis

For many people fibromyalgia is secondary to a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). For those people, having AS triggered fibromyalgia. While there have been studies done, the association between fibromyalgia and AS remains unclear. One thing researchers do know is that people with AS have a higher incidence of having fibromyalgia than the general public.

I had never heard of AS before meeting Jenna, from The Feeding Edge. Through her, I’ve learned much more about AS, including that the exact cause is unknown and that there is no cure. AS is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the sacroiliac joints (where the spine attaches to the pelvis), spine, and hip joints. AS can cause inflammation, pain and stiffness in other areas of the body such as the shoulders, ribs, heels and small joints of the hands and feet. Progressive stiffening of the spine is typical and some patients even end up with spinal joints fused together!

Unlike other forms of arthritis and rheumatic diseases, general onset of AS commonly occurs in younger people, between the ages of 17-35. Although women get AS, it is more common in men. A typical treatment plan includes medication and exercise with the goal of helping maintain a normal upright posture and spinal mobility, minimize the impact of hip and other joint manifestations, and reduce pain and stiffness. For more information on AS, see the Arthritis Foundation and the Spondylitis Association of America.

Jenna has an amazing project, called Art Apple A Day, where she creates 1 piece of apple art per day to support and help bring awareness to AS. She is an amazing artist and I always look forward to seeing what type of apple the day will bring! Not only does Jenna have AS, but she also has fibromyalgia. She has graciously made the spoon picture below for my “What is a Spoonie?” page. Can you spot all the awareness ribbons, butterflies, flowers, “FF” and the apple?

Fibromyalgia Spoon

By Jenna Visscher


Comment from Jenna Visscher
Time March 2, 2011 at 7:45 am

Wonderful article! There is so much confusion on the topic of Fibromyalgia existing in conjunction with other diseases. Thank you for talking about how people with AS are spoonies too!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks, Jenna! You’re the inspiration!


Comment from Pam
Time March 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I have never heard of AS. I am going to check out her blog now and see what her apple art is for today.



Felicia Fibro Reply:

Isn’t her apple art fun?


Comment from Amy K
Time March 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I love Jenna’s work and I really love the spoon, but where is the apple? I can’t find it in the picture, LOL. It is just lovely and I am happy to have found this post so that I can share it with others!
Amy K recently posted: Sweet Dreams


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks, Amy! The apple is on the top of the handle and is purple. Look for the stem on the round apple, next to the purple butterfly.


Comment from Jenifer Nolan L.
Time March 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

My sister has AS, and I’ve wondered if she has secondary fibro as well. I’ve had fibro for 10+ years, been tested twice for autoimmune disorders, including AS. But our father had back & neck pains & problems his whole life. He was scheduled to be tested but got Multiple Myeloma & passed away. I think all three conditions are related to Pernicious Anemia, but who will listen?


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I’m so sorry for your loss. It can be frustrating when we see connections in health and illnesses that researchers haven’t proven yet. Hang in there, Jenifer.


Comment from Claire
Time May 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Wow to find your blog and related sites! I have never really researched my conditions but recently discovered the link of AS & fibro (my diagnosis in 2001) and thyroid – FINALLY diagnosed in 2008!!! I survive applying the ostrich effect of sticking my head in the sand while taking eltroxin, cipralex and aterax to get up and going and just otc pain killers. I sleep when i am not at work :) I am unable to be truly productive at work so I really have to attack this beastie now through diet and lifestyle. I am trying a combination of the o-blood group diet (my group) and going organic as much as possible. I believe we hold the key to wellness within us – we have to tune in and listen to what our body does and does not need? Good luck to all with their daily battles – we always take heart don’t we? even in very dark moments we keep the shimmer of light!


Comment from Jennifer
Time June 28, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Love Jenna & all she is doing for AS awareness!
Jennifer recently posted: Never Alone


Felicia Fibro Reply:

She’s great!


Comment from Mark
Time August 12, 2011 at 11:43 am

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia by a rheumathologist. Then last year I got more and more tired and more morning back stiffness pain. I heard of the gluten free diet on Dr Oz. I tried it and it made a big difference after just 2 weeks. Then the pain came back. I investigated my diet and there was still gluten in it. But later when I started to eat lentils it the pain came back in full force and I discovered eating beans also did the same earlier when the pain had returned. I’ve lost a lot of weight from cutting out all processed convenience foods. All this to say that I keep a food diary now as I really believe diet plays a big part.

Yesterday I was researching my back pain on line and I read about Ankylosis spondylitis. It sounds like what I have but to me it seems fibromyalgia and AS are the same. It’s all about inflammation. I came to your site to find information and your article above is about me. I’ll print it and keep gathering more information to show my doctor when I go see him soon. I finally found a doctor who actually cares. He reminds me of Tony Suprano in a nice way.

I found the gluten free diet helped me so much. But then there was the lentils and the beans too. I really believe diet is a big part of the problems with inflammation. And I also don’t get enough sleep which affects me.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

How interesting that beans and lentils are also triggers for you. Even through an intense elimination diet I’ve never been able to find a food that triggers my fibro.

Most people with fibromyalgia don’t have inflammation, although some do. There was actually a recent study that was hypothesizing that people who have inflammation are in a particular sub group of fibromyalgia. With AS there is usually more involvement with the sacroiliac joint, possible spinal fusion and it can even effect the eyes.

That is great that you’ve found a good doctor. I think they can make all the difference! Good luck discussing AS with your rheumatologist.


Comment from Mark
Time August 13, 2011 at 2:07 am

Thanks for your reply and clarifications Felicia Fibro.

The rheumatologist I saw was in 1998 when I was sent there because of a high RA blood test and lots of aches symptoms. After a full exam, and he said good news you don’t have RA, but you have fibromyalgia. He spoke of the importance of sleep and losing the bit of fat around my waist. I didn’t think much of his advice. He was an old doctor, and I think he’s retired or passed away now. I only saw him once. Thinking back about him, I’m impressed that he was open minded about fibromyalgia and the sleep connection.
My new current doctor that I like is a family doctor.

As I said above last year when my fatigue and aches got worse, I started the gluten free diet.
Then from hearing Dr Oz talk about belly fat and inflammation, I continued to improve my diet and I’ve lost 22 lbs so far or 4 1/2 inches off my waist. I’m at the 1998 level of waist size. I have 1 1/2 inches to go.

About trigger foods: If I have gluten, I have the major aches but also the muscle weakness and fatigue.
It’s when I was completly off gluten that I made the connection with lentils and beans when I was all achy again.

Thanks for clarifying the difference between AS and Fibromyalgia. So from what you describe, I’ll put all the small aches and pains, sudden joint-tendon injuries and fatigue as Fibromyalgia and AS is the lower back inflammation I get when I wake up that can go up the whole spine sometimes (gluten and lentils effect).

My new family doctor doesn’t believe in leaky gut syndrome but at least we can talk these issues. I hope he’ll be open minded about AS. Right now I have my Fibro insomnia.
Sorry for the long post. You have a great website. I like the calming lavender colours too.


Comment from Rae Thompson
Time June 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

great information keep it coming xx Rae


Comment from Sari
Time June 6, 2013 at 5:14 am

Thanks for writing about AS. Just one little thing: it is no longer believed (by smart specialists) that men get AS more than women (Ask the many thousands of women the world over who have waited for 6, 10 or more years to get treated for AS, including myself). It is now thought that sometimes the presentation is a little different (mind started in my feet and hands and sacroiliac but low back pain started some years later), often the damage to the spine varies from individual to individual but the main difference is women take a whole lot longer to get diagnosed. Wonder why?! Our symptoms are not taken seriously. PS. I have fibro as well as AS. Sympathy to anyone with either condition!


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