Spondylitis (pronounced spon-dill-eye-tiss), although difficult to say, is not that rare a disease.  Approximately 1 person in 100 suffers with some form of spondylitis.  The CDC estimates that more than 2,700,000 people have the disease in the United States.


Ankylosing spondylitis (pronounced ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss), or AS, is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.  Other characteristics of AS include:

  • Involvement of the sacroiliac (SI) joints where the spine joins the pelvis
  • Inflammation, pain, and stiffness in other areas of the body
  • Sometimes the eyes can become involved (known as iritis or uveitis)
  • In rare cases the lungs and heart can be affected


Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment


Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment
Variable from Person to Person and frequently misdiagnosed Most Common in 17 – 45 year old’s Medications
Family history of AS Persistent pain for at least 3 months Exercise and Physical Therapy
Lower Back Pain Back pain and stiffness worsen with immobility (at night and morning) Diet, nutrition and weight loss
Pain is usually diffuse Physical activity and exercise help moderate pain Practicing good posture
Mild fever & appetite loss Inflammation and pain along back, pelvic bones, sacroiliac joints, chest, and heels Heat/cold therapy to relax muscles and reduce joint pain
Progression involves chronic pain Blood work including HLA-B27, ESR, and CRP may or may not help with diagnosis as no marker is definitive Stress reducing therapies such as medicine, counseling, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and breathing techniques
Spreading pain up spine and possibly to ribs, shoulder blades, hips thighs, and heels SI Joint involvement (although this can be difficult to detect in early progression) Posture correcting surgery in severe cases
Comorbidity with Crohn’s or UC is common    
Eye inflammation is common    


NOTE: NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE.  DRUGS FOR THIS CONDITION MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH UNWANTED SIDE EFFECTS OR ADVERSE REACTIONS.  CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY DRUGS FOR THIS CONDITION.  Medications that may be prescribed by a doctor for AS include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as a first line therapy. Other medications include the immunosuppressant drugs Sulfasalazine, Methotrexate, Corticosteroids, and Biologics.  Immunosuppressants work by blocking one or more immune responses thereby providing relief of the condition.

Biologics are produced from living organisms or contain components of living organisms and are the most advanced therapies available.  Unlike the chemical immunosuppressants, their exact structure may not be known but their mode of action is highly researched and tested. They are sometimes referred to as biologic response modifiers because they change the manner of operation of natural biologic intracellular and cellular actions.

AS drugs that may be prescribed by your doctor include:

NSAIDs Chemical Immunosuppressants TNF Inhibitors (Biologic) IL-17 Inhibitor (Biologic) IL 12/23 Inhibitor (Biologic)
Ibuprofen Corticosteroids Enbrel Cosyntex Stelara
Arthrotec Methotrexate Humira    
Aleve Sulfasalazine Remicade    
Mobic   Simponi    
Indocin   Cimzia    


For more information visit Spondylitis Association of America or the Arthritis Foundation.

To watch videos produced by the Spondylitis Association of America explaining the disease click here. Or if you’ve been diagnosed with AS click here.

To request information from Qualmedica Research about enrolling an AS clinical trial check out our Studies Page.

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