Ankylosing spondylitis is an on-going condition which principally affects the joints of the back and pelvis. It is commonest in whites, with males outnumbering females four to one. Females have less severe disease. It most frequently becomes symptomatic between the ages of 20 and 40. 90% of people with ankylosing spondylitis are positive on a blood test known as "HLA-B27", or B27 for short, but the reverse is not true -- only a small minority of those positive for B27 will ever develop ankylosing spondylitis or its associated conditions.
|Early morning lower back stiffness|
|Pain on walking or bending|
|X-rays of the lower back may show characteristic changes to the spine|
|Blood tests are likely to be positive for B27|
If you have ankylosing spondylitis you will usually be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of joints
If you have advanced ankylosing spondylitis, your doctor will be alert for complications such as:
|Fibrosis of the lungs|
|Disease of the aorta, the large artery which takes blood away from the heart|
|Amyloidosis, deposition of protein called amyloid in soft body tissues|
Treatment consists of medication and exercises.
Medication is taken to reduce pain and stiffness, and may consist of
|NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)|
The Spondylitis Association of America has an excellent, comprehensive, website.
The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (of the United Kingdom) has useful leaflets and a network of 100 branches providing evening supervised group physiotherapy. Membership £12/year. An informative guidebook in PDF format is available.
National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society
PO Box 179
East Sussex TN20 6ZL
Tel +44 (01435) 873527
Fax +44 (01435) 873027
The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council (UK) raises and distributes money for research
Arthritis and Rheumatism Council|
St Mary's Court
St Mary's Gate
Derbyshire S41 7TD
Arthritis Care (UK) may be able to help with social and welfare assistance
18-20 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HD
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