Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. Spondylitis is an inflammation of the vertebrae, which are the building blocks of the spine.
Spondylos is the Greek word for vertebra
Ankylosing, from another Greek word, agkylosis, means causing stiffness and immobility of a joint
Inflammation is the body's response to a variety of causes of irritation or injury. In this disease, the inflammation causes:
Stiffness in the joint between the pelvic bones (the ilium) and the wedge-shaped bone at the base of the spine (the sacrum)
Ankylosing spondylitis also can cause inflammation of the eyes, lungs, and heart valves.
Here is how ankylosing spondylitis progresses in the body:
Ankylosing spondylitis causes inflammation of the ligaments and tendons where they connect the vertebrae.
This inflammation causes some damage to the bone, and the body heals this damage by growing new bone.
This bony growth replaces the elastic soft tissue and can fuse the joints of the vertebrae.
This fusion causes further stiffness and pain.
Stiffness and pain usually begins in the pelvis and near the base of the spine and progresses upward through the back to the neck.
It can also affect the hips and shoulders, the other larger joints of the arms and legs, and the heels.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a relatively uncommon disease that usually strikes in the late teens and early adulthood. It can be mild or somewhat severe. Early diagnosis and treatment can control the pain and stiffness and reduce the possibility of major disability.
Nice To Know:
Ankylosing spondylitis is one of a group of arthritic diseases called "spondyloarthropathies." These diseases, which tend to cause chronic inflammation of the spine, include:
Reactive arthritis, formerly called Reiter's syndrome, an arthritic disorder that often affects several joints in the legs such as knees, the feet, ankles, and sacroiliac joint following a triggering intestinal or genital infection.
Psoriatic arthritis a form of arthritis associated with scaly skin lesions (psoriasis), especially on the fingers and toes.
Arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease).