Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Anatomy of the male pelvis
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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. A gene called HLA-B27 occurs in over 95 percent of those with AS. However, some people with the HLA-B27 gene do not have AS.

Who is affected by ankylosing spondylitis?

AS is more common among young people, between ages 17 and 35, but it can occur in children and older adults as well. The disease affects two to three times more young men than women and it tends to run in families.

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 doctor 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:

Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis

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:

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