Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis of the spine.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis of the spine. It causes inflammation between your vertebrae, which are the bones that make up your spine, and in the joints between your spine and pelvis. In some people, it can affect other joints. AS is more common and more severe in men. It often runs in families.

The cause is unknown, but it is likely that both genes and factors in the environment play a role. 

People who have a gene called HLA-B27 are at significantly increased risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis.

  • Your sex. Men are more likely to develop ankylosing spondylitis than are women.
  • Your age. Onset generally occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood.
  • Your heredity. Most people who have ankylosing spondylitis have the HLA-B27 gene. But many people who have this gene never develop ankylosing spondylitis.

Early symptoms of AS include back pain and stiffness. These problems often start in late adolescence or early adulthood. Over time, AS can fuse your vertebrae together, limiting movement. Some people have symptoms that come and go. Others have severe, ongoing pain.

A diagnosis of AS is based on your medical history and a physical examination. You may also have imaging or blood tests.

AS has no cure, but medicines can relieve symptoms and may keep the disease from getting worse. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and exercising can also help. In rare cases, you may need surgery to straighten the spine.