Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is one of the forms of arthritis that affects spinal joints. The name is derived from Greek words ankylos and spondylo, which mean “stiffening of a joint” and “vertebra” respectively. It is an immune disease that causes inflammatory problems such as swelling, redness, and pain in the vertebrae which comprises of numerous discs that make up the spine. Generally, AS involves an inflamed sacroiliac (SI) joint, which is the meeting point of the spine and pelvis.
The early symptoms of Ankylosing spondylitis are back pain, sometimes coupled with neck stiffness. The disease often affects ribs, knees, hips, feet, and areas where the ligaments and tendons are attached to the bones. Bowel, eyes, heart and lungs may also be affected.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), AS affects twice as many men as women. It may run in families beginning as early as in the teen years. The majority of people begin to exhibit disease symptoms before they turn 30 and only five percent show symptoms after 45.
The definite causes of AS are still unknown. It is believed that the genes and the environment both play a role in causing AS. Normally, a rheumatologist diagnoses and treats Ankylosing Spondylitis.