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?
- Common back pain is typically caused by injury or overuse and usually goes away after 6 weeks; any longer and it may be something more serious
- AS is a type of chronic, inflammatory back pain
- AS is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints, mainly in the spine
- Symptoms may last for 3 months or longer, and can come and go
- Although AS is a lifelong condition, there are many ways to manage it
What makes AS different from nr-axSpA?
Both AS and nr-axSpA are chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases that primarily affect the spine with some notable differences:
- With AS, joint damage is clearly visible on an x-ray, but this is not always the case with nr-axSpA
- AS typically impacts more men than women, and while it tends to affect men in the lower back and buttocks, women are more affected in the hips, neck, shoulders and knees.
- With nr-axSpA, women typically have more widespread pain that can contribute to a delayed diagnosis compared to men