Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatologic Perspective
AS Rheumatologic Overview
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints (joints between the lowest end of the spine, the sacrum, and the pelvis). The affected joints and ligaments become swollen and painful, leading to stiffness in the back and neck. As the disease progresses, the vertebrae can fuse together, making the spine rigid and inflexible, eventually making the joints immovable. Ankylosing spondylitis can also affect other joints away from the spine as well as cause inflammation of tendons and ligaments.
Ankylosing spondylitis affects approximately 0.1-0.2% of the population. It most commonly affects young males, but females can be affected. Females often experience a somewhat less severe form of the disease.
The usual age of onset is from the late teens to 40 years of age. Approximately 10-20% of all people with ankylosing spondylitis have onset of symptoms when younger than 16 years, and this form of AS is referred to as juvenile-onset ankylosing spondylitis.
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The spondyloarthropathies (SpAs) are a family of related disorders that includes ankylosing spondylitis (AS), reactive arthritis (ReA; also known as Reiter syndrome [RS]), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), spondyloarthropathy associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy (USpA), and, possibly, Whipple disease and Behçet disease.