Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis.
Spondylitis is arthritis of the spine. Ankylosing means stiffened. So ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that makes your spine painful and stiff.
Ankylosing spondylitis, in addition to affecting your spine, also causes swelling, stiffness, and pain in your large joints, fingers, and toes
Sometimes it affects other parts of your body, including your eyes, lungs, and certain blood vessels
Doctors can tell if you have ankylosing spondylitis based on symptoms and x-rays
Medicines may help your pain and stiffness
Ankylosing spondylitis is 3 times more common in men than women. It usually starts in people between 20 and 40 years old.
The most common symptoms are:
Sometimes, the arthritis isn't in your back at first, and you start with pain in your hips, knees, or shoulders.
Along with the back and joint pain, you may feel generally sick with symptoms like:
After awhile, if the back problem gets worse, you may have:
You might also have problems that don't involve your back or joints. For example, you may have:
Red, irritated eyes and sometimes trouble seeing (uveitis)
Heart problems causing chest pain, trouble breathing, or an abnormal heart rhythm
Lung problems causing cough and trouble breathing
Most people with ankylosing spondylitis develop some disabilities but can still lead normal lives. Some people, such as those with extreme stiffness in their spine, become more disabled.
Doctors can tell if you have ankylosing spondylitis based on your symptoms and family history and by doing an exam. They will also do tests:
X-rays to see how damaged your joints are
Doctors will give you nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) and treatments to:
If you have more severe ankylosing spondylitis, doctors may give you biologic medicines. These work on your immune system to lessen inflammation.
If you have eye problems, doctors may prescribe eye drops.
In addition to medicines, doctors may suggest: