Glossary On What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Fused with pain

Ankylosing spondylitis is derived from the Greek word ankylos meaning fused and spondylos which means vertebrae. Thus it’s a condition in which the ‘spine is fused’ - actually a presentation that is seen in advanced cases of this disease.

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that affects multiple systems of the body though the commonest affection is of the joints. To make it more precise, the joints of the spine and those between the spine and the pelvis (sacro-iliac) are affected leading to chronic arthritis. Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness that worsens over a period of time.

As the disease progresses, the joints are immobilized on account of the abnormal adhesion (fusion) of the bones in the joints. When this happens to the spine, the condition is called as ‘bamboo spine’ since the spine becomes like one straight column that cannot be bent.

Other joints as well as organs of the body can be affected by this disorder and this includes the eyes, heart, lungs and kidneys.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects males almost two to three times more commonly as compared to females and can affect people of all age groups. However, it tends to present itself around the second to third decade of life.

Ankylosing spondylitis belongs to the group of conditions termed as ‘Seronegative Spondyloarthropathies’. This is because in this condition the Rheumatoid Factor (RF) is absent in the blood (seronegative) and the inflammation or arthritis involves the joints of the spine (spondyloarthropathy).

Ankylosing Spondylitis