Ankylosing Spondylitis: Arthritis that Affects the Spine

Close-up of a man rubbing his neck
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Pascal Broze / Getty Images

Definition:

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a debilitating disease in which the spine, over time, fuses.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic form of arthritis. When you have ankylosing spondylitis, your spine and sacroiliac joints stiffen and become chronically inflamed. (The SI joints, as they are sometimes called, are the joints between the sacrum and the pelvis. They are located on either side of the sacrum, one of the lowest bones in the spinal column.)  Ankylosing spondylitis can result in a complete fused spine, and total loss of spinal mobility.

Related:  What is Sacroiliitis?

AS can affect anyone; however, it most often strikes young men in their teens and twenties.

In men, usually the spine and sacroiliac joints are affected. In women and children, involvement of the extremities and hips can be more prominent.

Children with AS do not generally complain of back pain. They do tend to have hip problems later in life and often require hip replacement surgery because of it.

The symptoms of AS are:

  • slow onset of symptoms (weeks to months)
  • early morning joint/spine stiffness and pain that feels better as the day goes on, and feeling worse after rest and better after exercise
  • fatigue
  • feeling feverish and having night sweats

More Information on Ankylosing Spondylitis

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