5 facts you should know about Ankylosing Spondylitis | Fight The Fuse

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5 facts you should know about Ankylosing Spondylitis

A diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis brings to mind many questions about the condition itself and also about its management. Although it affects many people (almost 1 percent of the global population)[1], Ankylosing Spondylitis is not a household name - it’s a condition difficult to explain. The invisible symptoms can lead to many misconceptions and myths.

Here are a few facts about Ankylosing Spondylitis to help you understand and explain it better.

1. Ankylosing Spondylitis is an autoimmune disease

Ankylosing Spondylitis is an autoimmune arthritic disease, which means that your body attacks its own healthy tissues causing damage to the bones (mainly spine and hips).[1] [2]

It is also a chronic inflammatory condition caused by certain chemicals that cause inflammation, affecting joints and leading to swelling and pain.[1] [2]

2. Ankylosing Spondylitis can cause the spine to fuse

'Ankylosis' means fusion, while 'spondylitis' means 'inflammation of the spine'.[3] [4] In other words, if the condition remains untreated, the ligaments that surround the spine ‘fuse’ to become bony tissue, resulting in complete immobility and 'bamboo spine'. It’s considered the most dreaded consequence of Ankylosing Spondylitis.[1] [3]

3. Ankylosing Spondylitis is hereditary

Research has shown that 9 out of 10 people with Ankylosing Spondylitis carry a particular gene called human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27). This gene can be inherited from another family member.[5]

If you have Ankylosing Spondylitis and carry an HLA-B27 gene, there is a 1 in 2 chance that you could pass on this gene to your children.[5]

4. Ankylosing Spondylitis is not restricted only to the spine

Although it begins mainly in the spine or lower back, Ankylosing Spondylitis often affects other parts of the body like the knees, neck, shoulder blades, feet, etc. The inflammation can also affect other body organs like the eyes, heart, lungs, etc.[4]

5. Ankylosing Spondylitis is treatable

Though Ankylosing Spondylitis is not curable, there are many treatment options available that can help manage the symptoms. Treatment options can also help delay the spinal fusion process. A combination of medicine, exercise, and lifestyle changes is usually recommended to manage and treat Ankylosing Spondylitis.[6]

A diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis can be difficult to accept and the symptoms may be difficult to manage. On the other hand, early and optimal treatment can help reduce the occurrence of the irreversible consequences of  Ankylosing Spondylitis.

It is important that you stay in the know, learn about the disease, discuss the optimal treatment strategies with your Rheumatologist and Fight The Fuse.

Ask your Rheumatologist for biologics that slow down spinal fusion.


  1. Sieper J, et al. Ann Rheum Dis 2002;61(Suppl III):iii8–iii18

  2. Healthline. Important questions and answers about ankylosing spondylitis. Available [Online] at: https://www.healthline.com/health/ankylosing-spondylitis/questions-about-ankylosing-spondylitis#what-are-the-treatments Accessed on 8 March 2021

  3. Everyday health. 9 facts about ankylosing spondylitis. A surprising cause of back pain. Available [Online] at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/ankylosing-spondylitis-treatment-management/back-pain-cause/ Accessed on 8 March 2021

  4. Medical news today. Ankylosing Spondylitis: Effects on the body and how to treat them. Available [Online] at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317576#effects-on-the-spine Accessed on 8 March 2021

  5. NHS. Causes. Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available [Online] at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ankylosing-spondylitis/causes/ Accessed on 8 March 2021

  6. NHS. Treatment. Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available [Online] at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ankylosing-spondylitis/treatment/ Accessed on 08 March 2021