What is ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. "Ankylosing" means stiff or rigid, "spondyl" means spine, and "itis" refers to inflammation. The disease causes inflammation of the spine and large joints, resulting in stiffness and pain. The disease may result in erosion at the joint between the spine and the hip bone (the sacroiliac joint), and the formation of bony bridges between vertebrae in the spine, fusing those bones. In addition, bones in the chest may fuse. The cause of AS is unknown, although researchers suspect genetics play a role.
Who is affected by ankylosing spondylitis?
AS is more common among young people, ages 16 to 30.
What are the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?
Symptoms of AS tend to occur and disappear over periods of time. The following are the most common symptoms of AS. However each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How is ankylosing spondylitis diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for ankylosing spondylitis may include the following:
Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis:
Specific treatment for ankylosing spondylitis will be determined by your physician based on:
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. However, if symptoms are treated quickly and vigorously, long-term disability can be greatly reduced or prevented.
The goal of treatment for AS is to reduce pain and stiffness, prevent deformities, and maintain as normal and active a lifestyle as possible. Treatment may include: