Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the spine and other parts of the body. It can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints and ligaments. Over time, AS can lead to the fusion of the spinal vertebrae, resulting in a loss of flexibility and mobility in the affected areas.


Key features of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Inflammation of the sacroiliac joints: The condition often begins with inflammation of the joints connecting the base of the spine (sacroiliac joints) to the pelvis.
  • Spinal involvement: The inflammation gradually affects the spine, typically starting in the lower back (lumbar region) and progressing upwards. This can lead to a condition known as "bamboo spine," where the vertebrae fuse together, causing a rigid, bamboo-like appearance on X-rays.
  • Enthesitis: Ankylosing spondylitis can also involve inflammation at the sites where tendons and ligaments attach to bones, known as enthesitis. This can result in pain and swelling in areas such as the heels, elbows, and other joints.
  • Extra-articular manifestations: Ankylosing spondylitis can affect other parts of the body, leading to manifestations such as eye inflammation (uveitis), psoriasis, or inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis).


The exact cause of AS is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of AS are more likely to develop the disease. AS is also more common in men than in women.


The most common symptom of AS is chronic back pain and stiffness, which is often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Other symptoms of AS may include:

  • Reduced flexibility
  • Fatigue
  • Pain and swelling in other joints
  • Eye inflammation
  • Psoriasis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease


There is no single test to diagnose AS. Doctors typically diagnose AS based on a patient's medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRI scans.


There is no cure for AS, but there are a number of treatments available to manage symptoms and slow disease progression. Treatment may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): To reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): To control inflammation and disease activity.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): To control inflammation and disease activity.
  • Biologic therapies: Targeted medications that can be effective for some people with severe AS.
  • Physical therapy and exercise: To maintain flexibility and improve posture.
  • Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can be beneficial.

Early diagnosis and proactive management are crucial to prevent complications and maintain the best possible quality of life for individuals with ankylosing spondylitis.

Benefits Of Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment of AS can help to:

  • Reduce pain and stiffness
  • Improve flexibility and mobility
  • Slow disease progression
  • Prevent complications
  • Maintain the best possible quality of life

Risks Of Treatment

All medical treatments carry some risks. The risks associated with AS treatments will vary depending on the specific treatment being used. Some potential risks include:

  • Side effects from medications
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infection
  • Bleeding


There is no set recovery time for AS. Some people with AS may experience periods of remission, while others may have more persistent symptoms. The severity of AS can also vary over time.


There is no known way to prevent AS. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help to slow disease progression and prevent complications.

If you have any of the symptoms of AS, it is important to make an appointment right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help you to manage your symptoms and live a full and active life.

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