Ankylosing Spondylitis

Unmanaged arthritis is more than pain and stiffness in your joints – it’s a pain in your entire life, because you can’t do the things you enjoy. Let’s work together to reclaim your life.

Relief from this debilitating disorder starts at INTEGRIS Health.

A Painful Inflammatory Disease of the Spine

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved, causing inflammation of the spinal vertebrae that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. If you or someone you know if suffering from this potentially debilitating condition, look no further than INTEGRIS Health for relief and a new outlook on recovery. Our orthopedic and rheumatology specialists are highly trained to diagnose and treat this condition with the level of care you’ve come to expect from INTEGRIS Health, reducing pain and restoring mobility.

About Ankylosing Spondylitis

The hallmark feature of ankylosing spondylitis is the involvement of the sacroiliac (SI) joints during the progression of the disease. The SI joints are located at the base of the spine, where the spine joins the pelvis. In more advanced cases this inflammation can lead to ankyloses, or new bone formation in the spine, causing sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position.

Ankylosing spondylitis can also cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness in other areas of the body such as the shoulders, hips, ribs, heels, and small joints of the hands and feet. Sometimes the eyes can become involved (known as iritis or uveitis), and rarely, the lungs and heart can be affected.

Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis

Although symptoms usually start to appear in late adolescence or early adulthood (ages 17 to 45), symptoms can occur in children or much later in life and can vary from person to person.

The most common early symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are:

  • Frequent pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks, which comes on gradually over the course of a few weeks or months.
  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • General discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Mild to moderate anemia
  • Inflammatory back pain felt on both sides, usually lasting for at least three months

Over the course of months or years, the stiffness and pain can spread up the spine and into the neck. Pain and tenderness spreading to the ribs, shoulder blades, hips, thighs, and heels is possible as well.

The diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis is typically done by a rheumatologist. Diagnosis is made by performing a thorough physical exam, including X-rays, individual medical history, and a family history of AS, as well as blood work (including a test for HLA-B27).

A common treatment regimen for the various forms of spondyloarthritis involves medication, exercise, physical therapy, good posture practices, and other options such as applying heat/cold to help relax muscles and reduce joint pain. In severe cases, posture correcting surgery may also be an option.

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