Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the joints of the spine (such as the sacroiliac). It can also lead to inflammation of other joint parts, such as the hips, shoulders, and feet. It usually develops in young adulthood, with symptoms worsening over time. AS is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues, causing inflammation. The exact cause of AS is not known, but can be associated with certain genetic markers.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Common symptoms of AS include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back
  • Tenderness in the joints of the spine
  • Reduced range of motion in the spine, hips, and other joints
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis

A diagnosis of AS is made by a physician after ruling out other possible causes of the patient's symptoms, and is usually based on medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Treatment for AS can include physical therapy, exercise, medications, and surgery. Pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, and biologic medications may be prescribed. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of any treatment with your physician.

Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Living with AS can be challenging, but there are many ways to help manage the condition and its symptoms. Eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of AS. Stress management techniques, such as yoga and mindfulness, can also help manage symptoms. It is important to talk to your doctor about any lifestyle changes or treatments that might be beneficial.