Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic arthritic disease that primarily inflames the joints between spinal vertebrae and the spine and the pelvis. Sometimes the disease affects the joints between the spine and the pelvis, in the extremities, or between the ribs and the spine.

The body responds to the persistent inflammation in the affected joints with new bone growth. This growth may lead to vertebral fusion that causes inflexibility in the spinal column. It can also cause stiffness and rigidity in the rib cage, a serious development that may lead to inhibited lung capacity and function.

Because its symptoms at the outset can be mild and resemble other conditions like lower back pain, AS is not always immediately diagnosed. X-ray imaging, however, can reveal elements of the increased bone growth. Also, a blood test can determine if a patient has a specific gene known as HLA-B27 that is an almost universal factor among AS patients. It's estimated that eight percent of the general population have this gene, and only two percent of those ever develop AS, an indication of its rarity.

Common Treatments:

As with many rheumatoid conditions, there is no cure for AS. However, early diagnosis and an aggressive treatment plan can help control pain and stiffness and may even reduce bone fusion. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remedy extreme joint damage and pain.

Doctors may prescribe a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to relieve pain. One common NSAID used for AS is sulfasalazine, also used for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease.

Physical exercise and therapy are other important treatment options. Range of motion and stretching exercises are especially helpful in reducing stiffness and promoting good posture.
      Other Conditions
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Back Pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Infectious arthritis
Lyme Disease
Polymyalgia rheumatica
Psoriatic Arthritis
Reactive Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sjögren's Syndrome