What is a Ankylosing Arthritis?
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes inflammation of the joints between vertebrae of the spine and joints between the spine and pelvis. The disease may also cause inflammation in other body parts. Some inflamed areas may include the place where tendons and ligaments connect to bones, the joints between the spine and ribs, and joints in the hips, shoulders, knees, and feet. It commonly causes inflammation in the eyes as well.
While the ankylosing spondylitis worsens and inflammation progresses, new bones form as the body's way of attempting to heal. As a result, the body's vertebrae fuse. This forms syndesmophytes, or bony outgrowths; vertebrae stiffen and lose flexibility. This fusion may stiffen the rib cage, limiting lung function and contributing to other complications.
Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are varied and change over time. Early signs of the disease include pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips. The pain is often worse in the morning, at night, or following long periods of inactivity. Pain eventually progresses to the spine and other joints.
Advanced stages of this chronic disease include limited chest expansion, a severely stooped posture, a stiff spine and fatigue, lack of appetite, weight loss, eye inflammation, and bowel inflammation. There is no known cause of ankylosing spondylitis, but genetic factors play a role in the onset of the disease. This severe form of arthritis generally targets males between the ages of 16 and 40.