Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that primarily affects your spine. It produces chronic inflammation that typically causes swelling between your vertebrae and the joints between your spine and pelvis.

In some cases, ankylosing spondylitis also affects other joints, including your shoulders, ribs and knees. Researchers have not found a cure for ankylosing spondylitis or a clear cause.

With ankylosing spondylitis, you tend to have acute episodes of back pain with increasing persistence over time. In some people, inflammation can eventually cause some of your vertebrae to fuse. Bones in the chest can also fuse, causing restricted lung capacity.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects two to three times more men than women and it most often begins between ages 17 and 35. Scientists do not know the condition’s exact cause, but they have found a strong association with a genetic marker called HLA-B27. Other genes and environmental factors, such as infectious microbes, may contribute to the condition.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ranging from mild to severe, common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Back pain (most severe during rest)
  • Stiffness in the morning
  • Rigid spine
  • Bent posture as a result of pain
  • Inability to breathe deeply

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 such as inflammation of the eyes, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite. In addition, the heart, lungs and bowels can be affected.

How We Can Help

With excellent care, you can maintain high levels of functioning and a good quality of life. Effective treatment may prevent or delay the progression of your disease. Rheumatology specialists at Indiana University Health will provide the best treatments to relieve your symptoms and help you maintain a normal and active a lifestyle as possible.

IU Health rheumatology specialists will carefully examine you and base your diagnosis on your medical history, physical examination, imaging procedures and laboratory tests. Specialists will then tailor a treatment plan to your individual symptoms, needs and preferences.

Our affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine ensures that we can offer you the latest innovations in diagnosis and treatment. We will also connect you with other specialists in the IU Health system should you need additional care.

Overview

With ankylosing spondylitis, you tend to have acute episodes of back pain with increasing persistence over time. In some people, inflammation can eventually cause some of your vertebrae to fuse. Bones in the chest can also fuse, causing restricted lung capacity.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects two to three times more men than women and it most often begins between ages 17 and 35. Scientists do not know the condition’s exact cause, but they have found a strong association with a genetic marker called HLA-B27. Other genes and environmental factors, such as infectious microbes, may contribute to the condition.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ranging from mild to severe, common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Back pain (most severe during rest)
  • Stiffness in the morning
  • Rigid spine
  • Bent posture as a result of pain
  • Inability to breathe deeply

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 such as inflammation of the eyes, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite. In addition, the heart, lungs and bowels can be affected.

How We Can Help

With excellent care, you can maintain high levels of functioning and a good quality of life. Effective treatment may prevent or delay the progression of your disease. Rheumatology specialists at Indiana University Health will provide the best treatments to relieve your symptoms and help you maintain a normal and active a lifestyle as possible.

IU Health rheumatology specialists will carefully examine you and base your diagnosis on your medical history, physical examination, imaging procedures and laboratory tests. Specialists will then tailor a treatment plan to your individual symptoms, needs and preferences.

Our affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine ensures that we can offer you the latest innovations in diagnosis and treatment. We will also connect you with other specialists in the IU Health system should you need additional care.

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

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Biologic response modifiers
  • Physical therapy
  • Education
  • Surgery

Treatment

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

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Biologic response modifiers
  • Physical therapy
  • Education
  • Surgery

Patient Stories for Ankylosing Spondylitis

American College of Rheumatology

This group, representing rheumatologists and other rheumatology professionals, has compiled patient-friendly information on ankylosing spondylitis and related conditions.

Resources

American College of Rheumatology

This group, representing rheumatologists and other rheumatology professionals, has compiled patient-friendly information on ankylosing spondylitis and related conditions.