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Ankylosing Spondylitis - Topic Overview

The early signs of this disease—dull pain in the low back and buttocks—are common. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and if they have become worse over time. Your doctor will also ask if you have a family history of this joint disease or others like it.

Your doctor may do several tests if he or she thinks that you have ankylosing spondylitis. You may have an X-ray, a test for the HLA-B27 gene, or an MRI of the sacroiliac joints.

The clearest sign of the disease is a change in the sacroiliac joints at the base of the low back. This change can take up to a few years to show up on an X-ray.

Treatment includes exercise and physical therapy. These will help reduce stiffness so that you can stand up straighter and move around better. Your doctor will also give you medicine for pain and swelling.

Because people with ankylosing spondylitis may be at a higher risk for spinal cord injury, it's important that you wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a car.

You will need to get regular eye exams to check for inflammation in your eye, called iritis. You may use a device such as a cane to help you walk and to help reduce stress on your joints.

Surgery for the spine is rarely needed. You may want to think about hip or knee replacements if you have severe arthritis in those joints.

There is no cure for this disease. But early diagnosis and treatment can help relieve pain and stiffness and allow you to keep doing your daily activities for as long as possible.

Learning about ankylosing spondylitis:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with ankylosing spondylitis:

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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