UNDERSTANDING ARTHRITIS

Ankylosing Spondylitis

UNDERSTANDING ARTHRITIS

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory condition that, if left untreated, can result in the fusing of  vertebrae in the spine. When vertebrae fuse, the spine is less flexible which leads to pain, inflammation, reduced posture, difficulty breathing and a reduced quality of life.

Affecting more men than women, ankylosing spondylitis often shows up in early adulthood. While it mostly affects the spine, inflammation can be experienced in other areas of the body, most notably, in the eyes.

There are treatments that can lessen symptoms and even possibly slow down progression, but currently there is no cure.

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Ankylosing Spondylitis

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Signs and Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Pain and stiffness
    • Lower back
    • Hips
  • Neck pain
  • Fatigue

As time progresses, symptoms may worsen, improve or stop. Ankylosing Spondylitis is unpredictable.

The areas most commonly affected are:

  • Sacroiliac joint (the joint between the base of the spine and pelvis)
  • Vertebrae in lower back
  • Areas where tendons and ligaments attach to bones
    • mainly in spine, but sometimes along the back of the heel
  • Cartilage between breastbone and ribs
  • Hip joints
  • Shoulder joints

Risk Factors for Ankylosing Spondylitis

The risk factors for Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) come down to gender, age and  genetics. Gender plays a role because men are more likely to develop AS than women. Age is a factor because AS is most often developed in late adolescence or early adulthood years. And lastly, genetics is important because the majority who develop ankylosing spondylitis have the HLA-B27 gene. The HLA-B27 gene has become a strong indicator of AS, however, many people who are carriers of this gene never develop ankylosing spondylitis. Therefore, it is not the sole determinant of developing AS.

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