Ankylosing Spondylitis - Experience

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What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joints are located in the low back where the sacrum (the bone directly above the tailbone) meets the iliac bones (bones on either side of the upper buttocks). Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Over time, chronic inflammation of the spine (spondylitis) can lead to a complete cementing together (fusion) of the vertebrae, a process referred to as ankylosis. Ankylosis leads to loss of mobility of the spine.

Inflammation of Spondyloarthropathy Illustration - Picture of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Picture of ankylosing spondylitis areas of inflammation

Ankylosing spondylitis is also a systemic disease, meaning it can affect other tissues throughout the body. Accordingly, it can cause inflammation in or injury to other joints away from the spine, as well as to other organs, such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Ankylosing spondylitis shares many features with several other arthritis conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter's disease), and arthritis associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Each of these arthritic conditions can cause disease and inflammation in the spine, other joints, eyes, skin, mouth, and various organs. In view of their similarities and tendency to cause inflammation of the spine, these conditions are collectively referred to as "spondyloarthropathies." Ankylosing spondylitis is considered one of the many rheumatic diseases because it can cause symptoms involving muscles and joints.

Ankylosing spondylitis is two to three times more common in men than in women. In women, joints away from the spine are more frequently affected than in men. Ankylosing spondylitis affects all age groups, including children. When it affects children, it is referred to as juvenile ankylosing spondylitis. The most common age of onset of symptoms is in the second and third decades of life. Ankylosing spondylitis is often abbreviated AS and has been referred to as Bechterew's disease.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: CHANDRA, 35-44 Female (Caregiver) Published: February 26

My sister of age 38 years is suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. She has been operated by a very senior neurosurgeon in 2011 but she is still not well. We have taken opinions from many senior consultants but all have suggested to us that their treatment is over, she cannot be ok. She also has polio since childhood, from around 4 years of age, and now she is bedridden and helpless.

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Comment from: Beryl, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

I am a 70 year old female and recently diagnosed with AS (ankylosing spondylitis). I had a minor fall 9 months ago when I slipped on some water in the supermarket. I"ve had pain and stiffness all over ever since, especially in bed at night so that I could hardly bear to move. The doctor put me on ibuprofen for a month, now I am on Mobic/meloxicam and feeling a lot better. I am trying to walk and exercise regularly. From the symptoms, I think my father and my great grandfather both had it. My 45 year old son has been tested, and thankfully he doesn"t have the gene.

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