What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic type of arthritis that affects the lower back. While the cause of AS isn’t known, it occurs when the immune system attacks the back, causing inflammation and resulting in pain and stiffness. Similarly to osteoarthritis, the body attempts to repair your lower back by growing new bone, which often grows across the joint and may even become fused.

Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms include pain and stiffness in the joints in the lower back, spine, hips, knees, shoulders, ligaments and tendons. Some people experience inflammation of the tendons of the heels or feet and the eyes. Over time, the inflammation can cause permanent damage to the joints.


The body attempts to repair your lower back by growing new bone, which can grow across the joint and become fused.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatments

If you’re diagnosed with AS, your physician will likely refer you to a rheumatologist.

Ankylosing spondylitis treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics.

Physical therapy and low-impact exercise can also be effective in keeping the spine flexible and the joints mobile.

A physiotherapist can help show you what exercises to do and what you can do to keep your spine straight. Range of movement exercises such as yoga and tai chi can also be beneficial.

Because ankylosing spondylitis is linked to heart disease, it’s important to monitor and/or lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Early diagnosis and treatment of ankylosing spondylosis is important to control your stiffness and pain, and it may even prevent deformity in the future.


Talk to your rheumatologist if you want more information on ankylosing spondylitis treatment.