What is ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine. It can also involve other parts of the body, such as the shoulders, hips, knees, neck, and pelvis. If left untreated, it can lead to spinal fusion, reducing mobility.
Signs and symptoms of AS include:
- morning back pain and stiffness
- spinal inflammation
- pain in lower back and hips
- reduced physical function
- less mobility
What makes AS different from back pain?
Back pain is also known as mechanical pain. This pain is common and is typically caused by injury or overuse. It usually goes away after 6 weeks; any longer and it may be a sign of something more serious.
However, ankylosing spondylitis is a type of chronic, inflammatory back pain. AS occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints, mainly in the spine. The symptoms listed above may last for 3 months or longer. These symptoms may come and go, but because this is a chronic autoimmune disease, there is no cure. The good news is there are many ways to manage AS.