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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that typically causes swelling between the vertebrae and in the joints between the spine and pelvis. In some cases, it also affects other joints, including the shoulders, ribs and knees. Ankylosing spondylitis tends to cause acute episodes of back pain that can become more persistent over time. In some people, inflammation can eventually cause some of the vertebrae to fuse. Bones in the chest can also fuse, causing restricted lung capacity.

Common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Back pain that is most severe during rest
  • Stiffness in the mornings
  • Rigid spine
  • Bent posture as a result of pain
  • Inability to breathe deeply

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. The pain of ankylosing spondylitis typically starts in the lower back and can, over the course of months or years, extend up the back and into the neck. The condition can cause other problems, including pain and swelling in other joints, inflammation of the eyes, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite. In addition, the heart, lungs and bowel can be affected.

Ankylosing spondylitis is two to three times as common in men as in women and most often begins between ages 17 and 35. Scientists do not know the condition’s exact causes, but they have found a strong association with a genetic marker called HLA-B27. Other genes and environmental factors, such as infectious microbes, are also likely contributors to ankylosing spondylitis.

Ankylosing spondylitis is not curable, but we help you to control symptoms so that you can lead an active and fulfilling life. We provide treatment to relieve the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and help you maintain as normal and active a lifestyle as possible.

Our physicians form a careful diagnosis based on medical history, physical examination and tools such as imaging procedures and laboratory tests. We then tailor a treatment plan to your individual symptoms, needs and preferences. With appropriate care, patients can maintain high levels of functioning and a good quality of life. Effective treatment may also prevent or delay the progression of the disease.

Our rheumatology specialists care for patients with ankylosing spondylitis of all stages and severity levels at our network of hospital-based and satellite offices. Our affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine ensures that we can offer our patients the latest innovations in diagnosis and treatment. Through the partnership, we also conduct research to find new treatments for conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, and we help to prepare new generations of doctors. When our patients need care from additional specialists, such as ophthalmologists or gastroenterologists, we use the comprehensive referral system of IU Health to connect them with top experts.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment Information

Our rheumatology specialists provide treatment for ankylosing spondylitis based on your specific needs. Options include:


Ankylosing Spondylitis Locations & Physicians

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Support Services

More information on ankylosing spondylitis is available from several national organizations. They include: