Ankylosis spondylitis is a sort of spinal arthritis, mainly affecting young males, that eventually causes ankylosis of vertebral and sacro-iliac joints. Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together. This fusion makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture. It may affect the breathing if the ribs are affected.
The symptoms typically begin in early adulthood. Inflammation can also occur in other parts of the body, most commonly the eyes. There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but treatments can decrease the pain and lessen the symptoms.
Early symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis may include pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips, especially in the morning and after periods of inactivity. With time, symptoms may worsen, improve or stop completely at irregular intervals.
Most commonly affected areas are:
- the joint between the base of the spine and the pelvis,
- the vertebrae in the lower back,
- the places where the tendons and ligaments attach to bones, mainly in the spine, but sometimes along the back of the heel,
- the cartilage between the breastbone and ribs,
- the hip and shoulder joints.
Ankylosing spondylitis has no recognized specific cause, though genetic factors may be involved. In particular, people who have a gene called HLA-B27 are at significantly increased risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis.
- The sex. Men are more likely to develop ankylosing spondylitis than women.
- The age. Onset generally occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood.
- The heredity. Most people who have ankylosing spondylitis have the HLA-B27 gene. But many people who have this gene never develop ankylosing spondylitis.
In severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis, new bone forms as part of the body's attempt to heal. This new bone gradually bridges the gap between vertebrae and eventually fuses sections of vertebrae together. Those parts of the spine become stiff and inflexible. Fusion can also stiffen the rib cage, restricting the lung capacity and function.
Other complications may include:
- Eye inflammation (uveitis),
- Compression fractures,
- Heart problems.
Smoking is generally bad for the health, but it creates additional problems for people with ankylosing spondylitis. Depending on the severity of the condition, ankylosing spondylitis can affect the mobility of the rib cage. Damaging the lungs by smoking can further compromise the ability to breathe. So, stop smoking.