Ankylosing spondylitis is a disorder that causes chronic pain in the joints, painful arthritis that mainly affects the lower back and spinal joints (vertebrae). It causes pain, stiffness, and may affect the shape of the spine and mobility.

There are a few steps to diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis (AS), as well as some early signs that people should be aware of.

The three main symptoms of AS are:

Loss of mobility

People with ankylosing spondylitis can also have arthritis in joints other than the spine. This feature occurs more commonly in women. Patients may notice pain, stiffness, heat, swelling, warmth, and/or redness in joints such as the hips, knees, and ankles.


Ankylosing spondylitis is also a systemic disease, meaning it can affect tissues throughout the body, not just the spine. Accordingly, it can cause inflammation in and injury to other joints away from the spine manifest as arthritis, as well as to other organs, such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys.


Diagnosis is often carried out by a rheumatologist who specializes in diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones.

AS may be diagnosed through a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging tests.


Treatment for AS involves reducing the symptoms of inflammation while slowing the progression of the disorder. Treatment plans will typically include using NSAIDs to control pain and inflammation, and may include drugs known as TNF-a inhibitors to slow the progression of the disorder.

Exercise and flexibility can play a major role in reducing symptoms in many people. Doctors will probably include physical therapy, exercise, and techniques to correct posture in a treatment plan.

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