A form of chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints. Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Over time, chronic spinal inflammation (spondylitis) can lead to a complete cementing together (fusion) of the vertebrae, a process called ankylosis.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture. If ribs are affected, it can be difficult to breathe deeply.
Ankylosing spondylitis has no known specific cause, though genetic factors seem to be involved. In particular, people who have a gene called HLA-B27 are at greatly increased risk of developing Ankylosing spondylitis. However, only some people with the gene develop the condition.
Your sex. Men are more likely to develop Ankylosing spondylitis than are women.
Your age. Onset generally occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Your heredity. Most people who have ankylosing spondylitis have the HLA-B27 gene. But many people who have this gene never develop Ankylosing spondylitis.
Early signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis might include pain and stiffness in your lower back and hips, especially in the morning and after periods of inactivity. Neck pain and fatigue also are common. Over time, symptoms might worsen, improve or stop at irregular intervals.
The area’s most commonly affected are:
• The joint between the base of your spine and your pelvis (sacroiliac)
• The vertebrae in your lower back
• The places where your tendons and ligaments attach to bones (entheses), mainly in your spine, but sometimes along the back of your heel
• The cartilage between your breastbone and ribs
• Your hip and shoulder joints.