Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an uncommon form of arthritis that causes stiffness and pain in your spine. This chronic illness typically begins in the lower back and is also known as Bechterew’s disease. In other areas of the body, pain will radiate up to the spine or damaged joints.


Your sacroiliac joints, where your spine is attached to your pelvis, is where AS often begins. It will impact areas where bones are attached to the tendons and ligaments. It might also cause your vertebrae to merge. 

AS symptoms include pain or stiffness in your:

  • Buttocks
  • Shoulder
  • Lower back
  • Hips
  • Hands
  • Rib cage
  • Thighs
  • Heels
  • Feet

Other AS symptoms that are noticeable include:

  • A hunched rigid spine
  • Pain that is felt after sitting for a long period of time or while waking up in the morning
  • Inflammation and swelling in the joints
  • Having trouble taking deep breaths
  • Tiredness

Symptoms can be different from person to person. The timeframe and severity of this condition may also vary.


AS can be difficult to spot, and the key symptom is that so many people have back pain. For women, a diagnosis can be much trickier since the disease in men is far more common. 

Also, there’s no single exam to validate AS. Your doctor can depend on your blood tests, symptoms, and physical examination. 

You may have an MRI or X-ray as well, but this doesn’t necessarily help since joint injury can not turn up on imaging scans right away.


The treatment for ankylosing spondylitis arthritis includes:

Physical therapy. You’ll be instructed to exercise proper breathing, learn how to keep your back stable and stretch rigid muscles, and use other methods that will reduce your discomfort. 

Exercise. The less you lie down or sit down, the more it makes you feel better. Exercise makes you stay more upright and retains the limberness of your spine. 

A healthy lifestyle and some home remedies can also help you feel better.

Many patients who have AS are helped by prescription of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), including indomethacin (Indocin).

Your doctor can make you try stronger drugs, such as biologics, if your case is severe. These are made of proteins. Yet severe side effects, including infections, can be caused by them.

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