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What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

This disease causes pain and stiffness in the back, neck, and hips. It begins with inflammation around the bones in the spine or in some joints. As it progresses, it causes the bones in the spine to fuse together so the back is less flexible and may affect the ribs and other parts of the body.

Ankylosing spondylitis can make it hard to do simple things, such as getting dressed, getting up from a sitting position, and looking side to side. This is why it’s so important for you to tell your doctor if you are having ongoing pain and stiffness symptoms in your lower back and hip area.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Pain in the low back is the most common symptom of ankylosing spondylitis. This pain usually:

  • Starts between the ages of 20 and 30
  • Comes on slowly
  • Lasts for more than 3 months
  • Is worse after resting, such as first thing in the morning
  • Feels better with movement

Other symptoms might include:

  • Trouble bending, putting on shoes or other daily tasks
  • Pain or arthritis in other joints, such as the hips, shoulders and neck
  • Pain or swelling in other parts of the body, such as the elbows, heels, or ribs
  • Feeling tired and not well

There is no one test that can tell if you have ankylosing spondylitis. But your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have it by learning about your symptoms, doing an exam, and using imaging tests to look at your bones and joints.

Treatment will depend on your symptoms and how severe your condition is. The goal of treatment is to relieve your pain and inflammation, help you do your normal activities, and keep your spondylitis from causing other problems.

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