Ankylosing Spondylitis: Causes And Symptoms

Ankylosing spondylitis is a kind of arthritis that occurs in the spine. About 0.1% – 0.5% adults are affected by this condition and it is characterized by neck or back stiffness and pain. Ankylosing spondylitis can affect any gender and at just about any age. However, it’s mostly seen in men in their teenage or twenties. In women though, it’s generally mild.

The Causes

The real cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown. However, research has revealed that there is a particular gene associated with this condition called HLA-B27. Most but not all people with ankylosing spondylitis are carriers of the HLA-B27 gene, but most people with this gene do not develop ankylosing spondylitis. The events or conditions which trigger ankylosing spondylitis to start are still not entirely understood, though certain types of infections seem to be linked.

The Symptoms

The early and most common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Stiffness And Pain: Constant pain is experienced in the hips, buttocks and lower hips for over 3 months. It usually starts from around the sacroiliac joints, where the lowest portion of the spine fuses with the pelvis bone.
  • Fusion of Bones: Bony fusion, as it is called, refers to the abnormal fusion of the back bones leading to the inability of performing day to day activities. The spine may also become fused with the rib cage at time leading to the inability in expanding the chest while taking deep breaths.
  • Pain in Tendons And Ligaments: Ankylosing spondylitis may affect ligaments and tendons attached to the bones as well. Its termed as tendonitis or enthesitis and it refers to the inflammation of the tendons causing stiffness and pain in the adjoining area of the affected bones.

Ankylosing spondylitis is more of a systemic disease which implies that the symptoms are never really limited to the joints. Associated conditions such as loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, eye inflammation and even heart and lung problems may develop.

Have you been affected by ankylosing spondylitis? What symptoms did you experience? Which was your pain spot? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.

About Doug Roberts MD

Board certified practicing rheumatologist and founder of
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