Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes arthritis of the spine and hips. It can also affect other joints such as the knees, and can cause inflammation of the eyes, lungs, or heart valves.
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The cause of ankylosing spondylitis is not known. However, most people with ankylosing spondylitis share a common gene marker called HLA-B27. This finding indicates that genes play an important role in the development of this condition.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to very severe.
Common symptoms may include:
Less common symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Diagnosis is based on common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, such as:
Tests may include:
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment is aimed at providing education and relieving the symptoms.
Treatments may include:
Drug treatment may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control pain and inflammation.
In recent years, a number of newer anti-inflammaory medications have been discovered.
Techniques to prevent progression and worsening of symptoms may include:
In severe cases, hip or joint replacement surgery may be needed to relieve pain and restore mobility. In some instances spinal surgery is needed to allow the person an upright posture.
Last reviewed November 2008 by Julie D.K. McNairn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.