Ankylosing Spondylitis is an autoimmune disease, which causes inflammation and arthritic reactions to the spine and large joints. It involves hardening of the ligaments and tendons where they are attached to the bone. The disease affects young adults most commonly, ages 18-30. Individuals who overstretch the ligaments of the lower back and the pelvis can slowly start to experience low back problems in their early 20s and 30s. If the overstretched ligaments are not treated by tightening them the symptoms can last infinitely.
As in all autoimmune disorders, the immune system is fighting against the body’s tissues by creating antibodies. In ankylosing spondylitis the antibodies attack the connective tissues, resulting in stiffening of the spine due to swelling of the joints between the vertebrae. In extreme cases, the vertebrae may grow and/or fuse together.
Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis
The inflammation in ankylosing spondylitis typically starts around the sacroiliac joints, areas where the lower spine is fused to the pelvis. The pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis is worse when a person rests or is inactive. Pain is very common during the middle of the night. Symptoms lessen with movement and exercise. Other symptoms may include swollen, red and painful eyes, difficulty taking a deep breath and fatigue.
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