What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
This chronic (long term) condition is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. As a result of increased bone spurs (osteophytes) in the spine, the vertebrae may fuse together or grow, causing a rigid spine. The symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis may develop over a period of many months or even years.
What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis?
There are no known causes other than genetic factors. It has been observed, through research, that the HLA-B27 gene significantly increases the chances of developing this condition. Studies show that 9 out of 10 individuals with Ankylosing Spondylitis carry a gene known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B27.
What Are The Symptoms?
The initial symptoms and signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis include stiffness and pain in the hips and lower back, particularly in the morning and after inactivity. Fatigue (or tiredness), inflammation and swelling in the knees (and ribs) are also common symptoms. As time passes, these symptoms can improve, worsen, or occur only at irregular intervals.
Generally, the areas affected include:
- The cartilage between ribs and breastbone
- Shoulder joints
- The joint between pelvis and base of the spine
- The vertebrae in lower back
- The areas where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones