Health encyclopaedia - Alphabetical Topic List

| A | | B | | C | | D | | E | | F | | G | | H | | I | | J | | K | | L | | M |
| N | | O | | P | | Q | | R | | S | | T | | U | | V | | W | | X | | Y |

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-term (chronic) disease of the spinal column that affects about 1 in 250 people, mainly young men.

Spondylitis means inflammation of the spine, and ankylosis means that a joint has become fixed solid so that it cannot bend.

It happens when the ligaments or tendons attached to the spine become swollen. When the swelling goes down, new bone grows, replacing the ligaments or tendons. If this process continues, the individual bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine (vertebrae) begin to fuse together, making movement difficult. In severe cases, some people lose all movement in the neck and spine.

AS can come and go during a person’s life. Sometimes it may become very active, causing mobility problems for the patient. There can also be long times of inactivity, when the symptoms almost disappear.

Over 90% of people with AS are fully independent, although many lose some movement of the spine. People with the most severe type of AS, may also lose movement of the ribs. This does not affect breathing.