Ankylosing Spondylitis: What is it? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is a chronic form of progressive arthritis that mainly affects the lower spine. Its symptoms range from stiffness and pain to severe deformity.

X-rays of the spine, especially around the hip, are used to confirm a suspected diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis but can not show early status. Estimates vary, but more men than women are affected; where it usually has a beginning between adolescent age to 40 years of age, mainly affecting the lower part of the spine, where it joins the hip.

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease characterized by pain and stiffness and may cause loss of mobility. The disease process leads to the erosion of the spine’s bones, which leads to the deformity of the same in advanced cases. Ankylosing spondylitis can be challenging to diagnose, but it has a particular pattern of pain symptoms, which can be seen on radiography when the disease has progressed.

What causes ankylosing spondylitis?

Doctors know a lot about how ankylosing spondylitis develops and how it leads to symptoms. However, research is still trying to understand the underlying causes of this disease’s onset and progressive course.

The symptoms are caused by inflammation of the lower part of the spine, and this can also lead to damage through the growth of new bone in the spine, hips, and joints (the iliac sacrum joints). These changes can lead the patient to a deformity known as kyphosis (spine curvature). Other parts of the body can also be affected.

Why should people with ankylosing spondylitis have this chronic inflammatory process?

There is a hereditary pattern in it; it often appears in families.

A gene called the B27 human leukocyte antigen acts as a genetic marker of the disease since it is found in most people who develop this disease. Still, its link to the condition is not clear since most people in the population carry this gene and never develop the disease. It is believed that it can be an external (environmental) factor that triggers it.


Signs and symptoms

Three main symptoms characterize ankylosing spondylitis:

  • Pain.
  • Rigidity.
  • Loss of mobility

Pain is the main symptom of ankylosing spondylitis, especially in the lower back and buttocks. The inflammation is not limited to the spine since it is a systemic condition. Pain can also be experienced in other parts of the body. In some cases of this condition, the disease can affect the eyes, the iris (the colored part that creates the pupil), and other parts of the eye apparatus around it. This is due to inflammation (iritis and uveitis), which causes redness and pain but usually does not affect vision.


There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but pain and inflammation can be managed with medication and physical therapy.