What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis does not have any particular known cause, but it is linked to genetic factors, particularly the gene HLA-B27, notes WebMD. People who carry this gene have high chances of developing spondylitis; however, around 10 percent of people with the gene do not show signs of the condition.

Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis affecting the spine, causes persistent pain and stiffness in the back, buttocks and hips for longer than three months, explains WebMD. Patients with this condition also experience bony fusion, which results from the abnormal merging of bones due to bone overgrowth. Moreover, they suffer painful ligaments and tendons. Other possible symptoms include appetite loss, fatigue, fever and eye inflammation.

Doctors diagnose ankylosing spondylitis by evaluating symptoms, chest measurements while breathing, and results of a physical exam and lab tests, such as X-rays of the pelvis and back, states WebMD. Doctors generally recommend physical and occupational therapy, a daily exercise program, and medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They recommend artificial joint replacement surgery for patients suffering advanced joint disease. These treatment methods aim to reduce symptoms, improve posture, retain the function to do normal activities, and prevent deformity.

Proper treatment allows patients with ankylosing spondylitis to live a relatively normal lifestyle, according to WebMD. A treatment team consisting of a doctor, occupational therapist and physical therapist helps provide complete treatment.