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What is it?

Ankylosing spondylitis causes painful inflammation of the spine. Occasionally it can involve other joints or organs. In up to forty per cent of patients the eyes are affected with inflammation called uveitis or iritis. Stiffness due to ankylosing spondylitis is often improved after exercise.

Currently doctors believe that ankylosing spondylitis is caused by an autoimmune reaction. A trigger such as an infection may cause the body to react abnormally leading to inflammation. Over time, inflammation of the ligaments around the bone can lead to new bone growth which can cause separate vertebrae to join together. This can lead to long-term lack of mobility.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects men more than women and is usually diagnosed during the teenage years, twenties, or thirties. More than ninety per cent of patients will have a gene called HLA-B27. However being born with this gene doesn’t necessarily lead to ankylosing spondylitis and scientists are currently researching the other triggers.

Last Review Date: December 26, 2016

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