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Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis - a term describing a form of arthritis that mainly affects the joints of the spine. ("Ankylosis" - means to become fixed or rigid, "spondee" - means the spine, "um" - means inflammation).

In ankylosing spondylitis there is inflammation of the joints, in places where ligaments and tendons attach to bone, whereas in most forms of arthritis, the inflammation affects the inside of the joint. This disease usually affects the small joints between the vertebrae and reduces the mobility of these joints. Thus, the main feature of arthritis is a gradual restriction of their mobility with the formation of ankylosis (bone adhesions with each other). Simultaneously, the ossification of the ligaments that strengthen the spine. As a result, the spine can completely lose its flexibility.

Ankylosing spondylitis - a chronic (ie long, long) state, but in most cases the symptoms are moderately expressed. From time to diagnosis and appropriate treatment of pain and stiffness in ankylosing spondylitis can be minimized, and disability and deformity, significantly reduced or even prevented.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease from the group of rheumatoid arthritis, that is when the inflammation is noted not only in the intervertebral joints, but also in other tissues. This means that the inflammation can affect other joints (hip, shoulder, knee or foot), and eye tissues, kidneys, heart and lungs.
Ankylosing spondylitis usually affects young people 13 - 35 years (mean age 24 years), but may appear in the older age group. Men are affected approximately three times more often than women.

What are the causes of ankylosing spondylitis?

As with other forms of arthritis, the cause is not known, but does not deny the hereditary factor (HLA B27 gene is found in 90% of people with ankylosing spondylitis, although the presence of the gene does not mean that you will develop ankylosing spondylitis).

Symptoms ankiloziruyuschigo spondylitis

Typically, the disease develops gradually, there are small of back pain that eventually amplified and spread to other parts of the spine. The pains are persistent, and only for a time reduced after administration of drugs. Usually early morning stiffness and back pain are more pronounced.

Gradually, there is limited mobility of the spine, which sometimes happens invisibly to the patient, and revealed only when a special examination by your doctor. Sometimes the pain can be very weak or even absent, as the only manifestation of disease is a violation of the mobility of the spine. Changes in the spine is usually spread from the bottom up, so the difficulty in moving the neck appear rather late. In some cases, limitation of movement and pain in the cervical spine are observed from the first years of the disease.

Pain is not always limited to the back. Some people from time to time in the chest pain occurs.

Along with a decrease in flexibility of the spine is limited mobility of the joints connecting the ribs to the thoracic vertebrae. This leads to disruption of the respiratory movements and the weakening of mechanical ventilation, which may contribute to chronic lung disease.

In some patients, in addition to changes in the spine, pain and limitation of motion in the shoulder, hip, temporomandibular joints, less pain and swelling of the joints of hands and feet, pain in the sternum. These effects can be mild and short-lived, but in some cases, they are resistant and occur quite difficult. One side is usually more painful than the other.

The pain and stiffness increased after long periods of sitting, and this state can be interrupted sleep before the morning pain and stiffness.

In contrast to arthritis in other diseases, inflammation of the joints in ankylosing spodilite often accompanied by their destruction, but it helps to limit the mobility in them.


Account for the symptoms of the disease, be sure to make X-rays of bones and joints (particularly the pelvic bones, where the very first visible manifestations of the disease). In some cases, doing blood tests for HLA B27 gene.

Diagnosis is often difficult in the early stages or in mild cases. The diagnosis is confirmed by X-ray images, but because changes in the joints occur in a few years of the disease, which may indicate that it is impossible to make a definite diagnosis initially.


At present there is no specific treatment for ankylosing spondylitis, but there are many types of therapy for each person that can control symptoms and improve quality of life for patients.

The main objective of treatment is to reduce pain and maintain mobility of the spine, to ensure the correct position of the spine as possible.

Ability to work

People with ankylosing spondylitis are capable of doing most types of work. A perfect lesson - one that allows you to alternate periods of sitting, standing and walking, while the permanent sedentary work is not suitable for such patients.


As people age, the spine gradually becomes naturally less mobile. In persons older than 50 le-age, the loss of mobility is more pronounced in those suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. Because ankylosing spondylitis is very different in severity, it is impossible to predict how a person will lose the mobility of the spine.

If you follow the individually selected competent expert comprehensive treatment program, the impact of ankylosing spondylitis, preventing normal life can be minimized.

What can you do?

Patients who are well informed about their disease and lead healthy life style, say less pain, fewer visits to doctors, more self-confident and are more active, in spite of the disease.

It is very important have regular physiotherapy sessions. It ensures that the mobility of the spine, preventing vertebrae grow together with each other. Patients who engage in regular physical exercise, long retain relatively good functional status and ability to work, despite the advanced stage of disease.

What can a doctor?

Your doctor will do a thorough inspection, take all the necessary tests and instrumental investigations. Sometimes minor changes in the disease are seen on radiographs, whereas the disease is apparently not seen. Then the doctor will be able to put the time you diagnose and prevent unwanted, disabling disease outcome.