Ankylosing Spondylitis


What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS, is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine but can spread to other joints. It is an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together. This can make the spine significantly less flexible and possibly resulting in a hunched posture. Parts of the body that can be affected by Ankylosing Spondylitis include:

  • shoulders
  • hips
  • ribs
  • heels
  • joints in both the hands and feet

This condition can be present with pain, stiffness, and inflammation in all aforementioned body parts. If it affects the ribs, lung capacity can be restricted and breathing can become difficult.

If you are experiencing pain from Ankylosing Spondylitis, seeing a physician may help.

X-ray image showing ankylosing spondylitis

Risk factors for Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Although Ankylosing Spondylitis can occur at any age, it typically begins in adolescents and young adults. This continues to affect them throughout their lifetime. While there is no known specific cause of AS, genetic factors seem to be a contributing factor. Also, men are more likely to be affected by AS than women.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Signs you may have AS may include stiffness and pain in your lower back or hips. This can be especially in the morning and after periods of inactivity. The onset of stiffness and pain is typically gradual and progressively worsens over months, often with a noticeable loss of range of motion. Fatigue is common among those affected by active inflammation, another early sign of AS. Motion, gradual stretching, heat, laser, other modalities and a warm shower in the morning often help reduce pain and stiffness.

Treatment for Ankylosing Spondylitis

At present, there is no known cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis. Treatment options typically include medications (NSAIDs, Corticosteroids, DMARDs, Biologic agents), physical therapy, exercise, and in extreme cases, surgery. Never take medications without first consulting your physician; it is important to work with your doctor to find the safest and most effective treatment for you.

Regular exercise is very beneficial for AS and can help relieve pain, improve posture, and maintain flexibility. If you decide to start a new exercise program to help alleviate some of the pain, make sure you consult a physical therapist to design a program that is right for you. Physical therapy for AS usually includes exercises to maintain proper posture. This may entail stretching exercises to improve joint and spine mobility as well as deep breathing exercises to expand lung capacity.

Surgery is usually an option in the most extreme cases.  When joint damage is so severe that it makes it difficult to perform normal activities of daily living (ADLs), or your hip joint needs a replacement.

Hip and Back Pain

Hip and Back Pain

Ankylosing Spondylitis Doctors

You should seek medical attention if you have lower back or buttock pain that has increased gradually, and is worse in the morning or wakes you up in the middle of the night. A typical warning sign of ankylosing spondylitis is pain following periods of rest that is relieved by exercise or movement.

If you would like to learn more about low back pain, go to low back pain

The JOI Spine Team are JOI Board Certified Spine Orthopaedic Surgeons, Physiatrists, Physical Therapists and Medical Massage Therapists.

JOI Rehab has announced a new program for back or spine patients to fast track them for physical therapy. This new program will allow patients who have seen their primary care or family practice physician to begin conservative physical therapy treatments immediately at JOI Rehab San Marco.

If you need to make an appointment with a JOI Spine Orthopaedic Surgeon, please call JOI-2000. If you want more information about the Fast Track Spine Program, give us a call at 904-858-7045.

Related Articles: Osteoarthritis, lower back pain and Total Hip Joint Replacement.

By: Sarah Katsaras, PT

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JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

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To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

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