Ankylosing spondylitis is an arthritic spine condition that affects the joints and vertebrae of the spine. The arthritis gradually degenerates the joints found between each vertebra. This causes the vertebrae to rub against each other and inflame. In very severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis, the vertebrae of the spine can fuse together, causing limited mobility and debilitating chronic pain.
Ankylosing spondylitis generally occurs in young adults, and is more common in males than females. If left untreated, ankylosing spondylitis may contribute to a very limited range of movement in your spine and a decrease in quality of life due to severe, chronic back pain.
If you suspect that you have ankylosing spondylitis, it is imperative that you schedule a consultation with your physician to discuss your pain, symptoms and medical history. Your physician may schedule an MRI or CT scan for you to help properly diagnose your condition. Once your condition is diagnosed, you can take the next step to find treatment for your pain.
Causes of ankylosing spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis has no known cause. Many researchers believe that ankylosing spondylitis may be a genetic condition due to the fact that people with the HLA-B27 gene are at a significantly higher risk of developing this condition. In fact, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis have the HLA-B27 gene in their genetic makeup. Scientists are currently studying tests to find the correlation between this specific gene and the presence of ankylosing spondylitis.
While the cause of ankylosing spondylitis seems to be inconclusive, there are a few risk factors to consider:
- Men have a higher risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis than women
- Most people develop this spine condition between ages 17–45
- Some doctors believe that an increased amount of gastrointestinal infections may increase the risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis
There are several ways to determine whether or not you have this spine condition. The two most common forms of diagnosis are blood tests and MRI tests. Consult your physician to determine if you should undergo one of these tests to properly diagnose ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis can cause severe pain and limited mobility, as well as the following symptoms:
- Severe pain in the joints of the spine
- Radiating pain down the limbs and extremities caused by a compressed nerve in the spine
- Fusion of vertebrae together due to deterioration of joints and tissue in the spine
- Limited mobility from fused vertebrae
- Deformity from fused vertebrae
- Inability to sit, stand, or walk for extended periods of time
Other symptoms can occur with ankylosing spondylitis depending on the severity of the condition. However, the symptoms listed above are the most common side effects of this spine condition.
Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis
Unfortunately, researchers have found no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. However, there are certain treatment options that can help alleviate pain and increase mobility for patients diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.
At USA Spine Care, we do not offer minimally invasive surgery to treat ankylosing spondylitis. However, our care team can help you find alternative treatment methods that might help you alleviate some of the chronic pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis.
Browse Related Resources