Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis or ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammation that can cause the gaps between the vertebrae to close. This disorder can make people with ankylosing spondylitis hunchback.

The spine consists of several vertebrae connected by soft bony pads. In people with ankylosing spondylitis, the space between the discs fuses into bone so that the spine loses its flexibility. This condition can change the posture of the sufferer.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects men more often than women. Symptoms develop gradually over months to years.

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis

The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis is not known. However, this condition is thought to be related to HLA-B27 gene abnormalities. However, it does not mean that people who have HLA-B27 gene abnormalities will definitely get ankylosing spondylitis.

Although the cause is not known with certainty, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, namely:

  • Male gender
  • Teenagers or 30 years and over
  • Have parents who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms

Ankylosing spondylitis is initially characterized by pain or stiffness in the neck, lower back, chest, and pelvis. The pain is more pronounced when you wake up or after the patient has been silent for a long time.

These pain symptoms can disappear and appear in certain periods for several months to several years. If left untreated, ankylosing spondylitis can change the sufferer's posture to become more stooped ( kyphosis ).

In addition to pain and changes in posture, sufferers of ankylosing spondylitis can also experience the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • The body gets tired easily
  • Knee pain
  • Inflammation in the fingers
  • Diarrhea and stomach pain
  • Skin redness, scaly, and itchy
  • Impaired vision
  • Difficulty breathing

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor if you feel the initial symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, namely pain in the area around the spine that is prolonged and intermittent.

Ankylosing spondylitis sufferers need to undergo routine checks to the doctor to find out the progress of the disease they are suffering from. Generally, doctors will carry out examinations with scanning procedures and blood tests.

Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis

To diagnose ankylosing spondylitis, the doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms and medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination to check for inflammation in the joints or decreased flexibility in back motion.

Next, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations, such as:

  • Scanning with X-rays , CT scans, or MRIs, to check the condition of the spine or other bones
  • Genetic examination, to check whether the patient has abnormalities in the HLA-B27 gene
  • Blood tests, to see signs of inflammation that occur in certain parts of the body

Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

There is no specific treatment for ankylosing spondylitis. However, doctors can take steps to relieve pain, correct posture abnormalities, prevent complications, and help patients return to normal activities.

Treatment methods that can be used to treat ankylosing spondylitis are:


Physical therapy aims to relieve pain, and increase the strength and flexibility of the patient's muscles. Physiotherapy needs to be accompanied by regular exercise, to help loosen stiff muscles and strengthen the muscles around the joints.


There are several medicines that can be used to relieve inflammation due to ankylosing spondylitis, namely:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) , such as ibuprofen, meloxicam, etoricoxib , or diclofenac
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs ( DMARD ), such as methotrexate and sulfasalazine
  • Antidepressant medication to treat chronic back pain
  • Inject corticosteroid drugs in the problematic joints


Surgical procedures are performed if the patient experiences severe pain and joint damage. The goal of surgery is to replace damaged joints with artificial joints in certain parts of the body, such as the hips and knees.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Complications

Severe ankylosing spondylitis can cause the gaps between the vertebrae to close due to new bone growth. This condition makes the spine stiff so that it changes the patient's posture to become more stooped.

Other complications that can result from ankylosing spondylitis are:

  • Spinal fractures
    Ankylosing spondylitis can cause osteoporosis so that the bones become weak and brittle and increase the risk of spinal fractures.
  • Eye inflammation (iritis)
    Inflammation in people with ankylosing spondylitis can also occur in the eye. This condition, also known as uveitis , causes the eye to become more sensitive to light, feel pain, and have blurred vision.
  • Heart
    problems Ankylosing spondylitis can cause inflammation of the large blood vessels, causing heart disease .
  • Cauda equina syndrome
    This condition causes pain in the buttocks and pelvis, weak legs, difficulty walking, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. Cauda equina syndrome occurs due to pressure on the spinal nerve endings.

Prevention of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is difficult to prevent. However, there are several ways you can do to prevent more severe damage from ankylosing spondylitis, including:

  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages to keep bones strong.
  • Meet the needs of calcium and vitamin D through food or supplements.
  • Do regular exercise every day.
  • Use shoes of the right size so they don't fall off easily.
  • Sit and stand up straight, and sleep with a pillow that is not too high.
  • Avoid smoking habits.
  • Get enough sleep and avoid caffeine for better quality sleep.
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