Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a form of chronic, degenerative arthritis that affects the spine and sacroiliac joints and often other joints of the body.

The cause is currently unknown although there is a hereditary factor.

The word ankylosing means fusion and the word spondylitis means inflammation of the joints of the spine.

Inflammation within the spine and sacroiliac joints develops which also triggers the development of bony growths which often fuse the vertebrae causing pain and stiffness.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is one of a group of arthritis conditions known as spondyloarthritides.


Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis may initially be limited to lower back or joint aching, which is often just put down to ‘aches and pains’ and ‘growing pains’ in young people. Symptoms come and go and will usually progress to include the following:

  • Stiffness and pain in the morning affecting the sacroiliac joint area and spine.
  • Aching in the lower back which can disrupt sleep.
  • Pain radiating down the legs and into the groin.
  • Pain is worse during and after rest e.g. in the mornings.
  • Exercise eases pain and stiffness.
  • Aches and pains in the buttocks, neck, shoulders, hips and upper back.
  • Symptoms may flare up and then disappear.
  • Severe cases may cause feelings of illness, weight loss, and fatigue.


  • Keep themselves fit and healthy
  • Maintain an optimum weight to place as little strain on the spine as possible
  • Have a good diet
  • Maintain a good posture and mobility
  • Avoid sudden twisting and turning movements
  • Use a heat pack or warm bath to reduce pain and stiffness
  • Exercise such as swimming can be great for ankylosing spondylitis as it places very little strain on the spine and joints.

Surgery is rare although may sometimes be used to restore movement or straighten the spine in extreme cases.

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