Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of joint inflammation (arthritis) that
is long-lasting (chronic) and most often affects the spine. Ankylosing
spondylitis commonly causes pain and stiffness, with swelling and limited
motion in the low back, middle back, neck, hips, chest wall, and heels. Over
time, joints in the spine can fuse together and cause a fixed, bent-forward
In early ankylosing spondylitis, there is inflammation of
the joints and of the ligaments where they attach near the joints.
In advanced ankylosing spondylitis, there is:
Fusion of joints in the
Flattening of the normal curve in the low
Often a flattening of the normal curve of the neck, an
increase in the forward curve of the upper back, and bent posture at the
Other joints can become painful and stiff, including those in
the shoulders, wrists, hands, knees, ankles, and feet.
is unusual, ankylosing spondylitis can also cause changes such as thickening of
the major artery (aorta) and the valve in the heart called the aortic valve.
Scarring of the lungs also happens in rare cases. The kidneys and the digestive
tract can also be affected.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
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