Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis which can make your neck, lower back and buttocks feel painful and stiff. In some people, it can also affect the shape of the spine.“Ankylosing” means “fusing together”. “Spondylitis” means “inflammation of the spine”, which causes stiffness, tenderness and discomfort.
What are the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis can lead to new bone formation in your spine. Although it mainly affects the spine, Ankylosing Spondylitis can also cause pain and/or be swelling in the shoulders, hips, knees, heels, chest/ribs and small joints of the hands and feet.
Sometimes, the eyes are also affected. In rare cases, the heart and lungs can be affected, too. The severity of Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms varies greatly. Some people will have mild neck/back pain and discomfort for short periods; others will have severe pain and stiffness in several parts of the body for a long time. In severe cases, Ankylosing Spondylitis can seriously impact on everyday life and lead to disability.
The most common early symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:
- Pain and stiffness. Constant pain and stiffness in the low back, buttocks, and hips that continue for more than three months. Spondylitis often starts around the sacroiliac joints, where the sacrum (the lowest major part of the spine) joins the ilium bone of the pelvis in the lower back region.
- Bony fusion. Ankylosing spondylitis can cause an overgrowth of the bones, which may lead to the abnormal joining of bones, called “bony fusion.” Fusion affecting bones of the neck, back, or hips may impair a person’s ability to perform routine activities. Fusion of the ribs to the spine or breastbone may limit a person’s ability to expand his or her chest when taking a deep breath.
- Pain in ligaments and tendons. Spondylitis also may affect some of the ligaments and tendons that attach to bones. Tendonitis(inflammation of the tendon) may cause pain and stiffness in the area behind or beneath the heel, such as the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.