What is ankylosis spondylitis? Is it a dangerous disease? Well, ankylosis spondylitis is a kind of chronic disease. It involves bone and joint. Let’s talk about it in detail here;

Definition of Ankylosis Spondilitis

Ankylosis spondylitis is a chronic disease. It causes inflammation in backbone. The disease also causes space between bones shrink, then the patients with ankylosis spondylitis are difficult to move and tend to be kyphosis. The most dangerous part of this disease if the disease involve or attack ribs, the patient will be difficult to breath. In fact, ankyloses spondilitis is a common disease for men rather than women. The ratio is about 3 : 1. This disease can attack the patients in all age, but it is commonly developed slowly in 20 years old patients.

Ankylosis spondylitis is a chronic disease

Early Diagnosis and Treatment can Help Control the Pain and Stiffnes

In another word, ankylosis spondylitis is a type of arthritis that effects the backbone. The spine’s bone fuse together, resulting in a rigid spine. These conditions may be mild or severe. It also may lead to a stooped-over posture. If you get early diagnosis and treatment, it can help control pain and stiffness and may reduce or prevent significant deformity.

Who is affected by Ankylosis Spondylitis?

Ankylosis spondylitis affects about 0,1 – 0,5 percent of the adult population. It can occur at any age and it almost attacks men in their teens and 20s. Ankylosis spondylitis is less common and generally milder in women and more common in some Native American tribes.

Ankylosis Spondylitis Symptoms

According to Webmd.com, in their post here, the ankylosis spondylitis’ common early symptoms include:

ankylosis spondylitis symptoms

ankylosis spondylitis symptoms

  • Pain and stiffness. Chronic pain and stiffness in the low back, buttocks, hips that continue for more than three months. Spondylitis often starts a round the sacroiliac joints, where the sacrum (the lowest major part of the spine) joins the ilium bone of the pelvis in the lower back region.
  • Bony fusion. Ankylosis spondylitis can cause an overgrowth of the bone. It may lead to abnormal joining of bones. This condition usually called “bony fusion.” Fusion affecting bone of the neck, backbone, or hips may impair a person’s ability to perform routine activity daily living. Fusion of the ribs to the spine may limit one’s ability to breath.
  • Pain in ligaments and tendons. Ankylosis spondylitis may affect some ligaments and tendons that attach to bones.
  • Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) may cause constant pain and stiffness in the area behind or beneath the heel, such as the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.

Ankylosis Spondylitis Symptoms is NOT only Symptoms Above

Let’s make it simple, ankylosis spondylitis is a systemic disease. It means that the symptoms may not be limited to the joints. People with ankylosis spondylitis also have fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Eye redness and pain (eye inflammation) may occur in some people. In very rare cases, ankylosis affects lung and heart problems.

Ankylosis spondylitits symptoms usually develop slowly for  months or years. Sometime, the symptoms are worsened or be better, and appear in certain time. To avoid ankylosis spondylitis complication, this disease should be handled with correct treatments.

Ankylosis spondylitis symptoms begin with neck pain and numbness, including lower back, chest bone, and hip. These symptoms are felt when the patient wake up in the morning or after motionless for several time. Ankylosis spondylitis is sometime similar with other symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue. Ankylosis spondylitis patient will feel fatigue and lack of energy for doing activity daily living.
  • Enthesis. Enthesis is an inflammation in a space between ligament and tendon with bone.
  • Arthritis. Arthritis is a joint inflammation.


The main causes of ankylosis spondylitis is still unknown. HLA-B27 gene involvement may play important role of this disease. It is because 90% patient has this gene. But, part of these people havethis gene don’t have ankylosis  pondylitis disease.

Diagnosis for Ankylosis Spondylitis

Early diagnosis for ankylosis spondylitis is anamnesis and physical assessment. To make it sure the diagnosis, other diagnosis can be done as follows:

  • Blood test. Blood test is to assess the inflammation signs in a part of the body. If the diagnosis show an inflammation, patient should be suggested to see the doctor (orthopaedy).
  • Scanning. This diagnosis is to check the backbone and hip condition. The scanning is like X-ray, MRI, or USG.
  • Genetic Diagnosis. This gene test could detect the HLA-B27 gene or other genetic disorders.

Ankylosis Spondylitis Treatment

There are no treatments for ankylosis spondylitis. The treatments are only to reduce pain, rehabilitate the body  posture, prevent the complication, and train the patient back to normal activity. When properly treated, people with this disease may lead fairly normal lives.

Under ideal circumstances, a medical team approach to treat ankylosis spondylitis is recommended. The medical team include the patient, doctor, physical therapist, and occupational therapist. Those treatments are as follows:

  • Sport. Excercising or sport help reduce muscle stiffness and strengthen the muscle around joints. Sport help reduce the risk of complication. The most effective sport for ankylosis spondylitis is swimming. Another exercise is like deep breathing exercises may help keep the chest cage flexible.
  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Early treatment with physiotherapy and occupational therapy is important to maintain function and minimize the deformity. It can restore the body function normally and reduce the risk of permanent deformity.
  • Medicines. To reduce pain and joint stiffness, the medicines are:Non-Steroid Anti Inflammation Drugs is in early treatment. These medicines is like ibuprofen or naproxen. Antirheumatoid (DMARD) such as like methotrexate. You may take this medicine if NSAID is not effective enough. Duloxetine (Antideppresant) is for chronic back pain. Corticosteroid injection in inflamed joint or tendon.
  • Surgery. Surgery can be the last choice of treatments if the patients have severe joint damage. The surgery purpose is to replace the damaged joint with artificial joint.

How to avoid promote neck fusion

In addition, people with ankylosis spondylitis are encouraged to sleep on a firm mattress with the back straight. Do not put large pillows under the head, it may promote neck fusion in the flexed position. Propping the legs up on pillows is also not recommended. It may lead to hip or knee fusion in the bent position.

Choose chairs, tables, and other work surface that can help avoid slumping or stooping. Armchairs are preferred over chairs without arms. For those with ankylosis spondylitis, you can easily hurt your rigid necks or backs. Special care should be taken to avoid sudden impact such as jumping or falling.

For more info about how to care ankylosis spondylitis, you can read article here.


In a severe case of ankylosis spondylitis, a new bone formation, causes the backbone space become solid and not flexible. Ankylosis spondylitis can make problem in respiration (chest expansion).

Other Complications

Other complications are as follows;

  • Backbone fracture. Ankylosis can cause weaker backbone, severe kyphosis, and bone marrow and spinal cord.
  • Eye inflammation. This condition cause pain in the eye, blurry vision, and light sensitive. This condition can make the patient with ankylosis unable to do activity daily living.
  • Heart disease. The inflammation or other abnormality involve the biggest blood vessels, aorta. This abnormality can cause the aorta expand and increase the heart work.
  • Unable to do activity daily living. Patient cannot do an activity daily living normally. The patient should stay at home with no job.
  • Amyloidosis. This is a condition where the amyloid protein is over in other organ such as heart, liver, and kidney. Normally body will produce amiloid protein  in bone marrow.
  • Cauda Equin Syndrome. Stressed backbone can cause Cauda equina syndrome. This condition causes pain in lower backbone and hips, leg weakness, unable to walk, and urinary system disturbance.

How to minimize the severity of Ankylosis Spondylitis?

You can use these tips below and you can handle the uncomfortable symptoms well. These tips are:

  1. Stop smoking.
  2. Sleep without pillow or avoid using thick pillow. The using of thick pillow can cause backbone damage.
  3. Avoid bowing.
  4. Use chair, table, and other equipments. Do not bow for using those equipments.
  5. Avoid exhausting sport. It can reduce the risk of injury or falling.