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
Ankylosing spondylitis is a specific disease within a
family of diseases called spondyloarthropathies. The cause of the disease is
not known. In severe cases the affected joints in the spine fuse together,
causing severe stiffness in the back. Other joints can be stiff and painful,
including those in the shoulders, wrists, hands, knees, ankles, and feet.
Complications of ankylosing spondylitis may include inflammation of the colored
part of the eye (iris), called iritis, or difficulty breathing due to curving
of the upper body and stiffening of the chest wall. Inflammation from the
condition may also affect the heart valves. In rare cases of severe disease,
the artery called the aorta, the lungs, the kidneys, and the digestive tract
can also be affected.
Ankylosing spondylitis usually affects
people younger than about 35 and can run in families. It is more common in men
than in women.
Although there is no cure, treatment can usually
control symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse. Most people are
able to continue to work and do normal daily activities.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
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