Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

What is AS?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) Spondylitis is when there is inflammation between the different joints in your spine.

As the inflammation calms down, calcium deposits are left behind between the

bone which make up your spine (vertebrae). The calcium hardened and turns

into bone and reduces the space between each vertebrae making you less

flexible. In the long term the calcium deposits build up making even more

bone and as a result vertebrae link up and fuse with other bones next to

them. This is called ankylosis and is the something that can be seen on


Ankylosing spondylitis usually starts between the lower back and pelvis. As

AS progresses it can spread up towards your neck. It also has been known to

affect other areas of the body including other joints in the arms and legs

and also can cause eye problems.

What are the symptoms of Everyone’s symptoms are slightly different. Some people may hardly notice

anything is different. If your symptoms are on the more severe side it can

have a big affect on doing normal daily activities.

Spotting the Symptoms of Ankylosing spondylitis

Early signs and related conditions to look out for in ankylosing


Early morning pain and stiffness around the low back which gradually eases

throughout the day or is helped with exercise.

Pain where the base of your spine meets your pelvis. The condition is often

mistaken here for simple back ache. Pain and stiffness for more than 30

minutes in the mornings helps differentiate from ankylosing spondylitis

Symptoms may occur after you’ve rested or may wake you up in the night.

Pain in the shoulder, neck, thigh or hip pain, which is often worse after

not moving for a prolonged period of time, for example if you work at a

desk, and can be bad at night. Some people also have pain, stiffness and

swelling in their knees, ankles, or in their hands and feet. Some people,

especially in the young and teenagers, the initial signs may be in the hip

or knee rather than the back.

Other possible and related symptoms include:

Plantar fasciitis.

chest pain that comes on gradually.. Caused from stiffening of the Thoracic

region of your spine and you may feel short of breath after even gentle


Red (bloodshot), watery and painful eyes cause from inflammation.(If you

have this symptom, it’s important to get medical help.

Those with ankylosing spondylitis can develop bowel disorders known as

inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or colitis.

Who gets ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?

It’s thought that ankylosing spondylitis generally affects more men than

women, it’s possible this could be a result of women being undiagnosed in

the past. It is known that AS often starts in your late teens or 20s with

the average age of 24.

A genetic link can play a part. Genes you inherit from your parents may make

you more pre-disposed to develop AS, but the condition isn’t directly passed


Most people with ankylosing spondylitis have a gene called HLA-B27, which

can be detected by a blood test. This gene isn’t the cause of ankylosing

spondylitis but it does contribute to it. Having this gene doesn’t mean

you’ll definitely get AS, and the blood test isn’t very useful in diagnosing

the condition. Usually physical presentation which can be assessed by a

Doctor or physiotherapist, combined with further scans, helps correctly

diagnose the condition.

Article Courtesy of John Doyle at Synergy Physio