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Who Is at Risk for Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Experts don't know exactly how common ankylosing spondylitis is, because the condition is often not diagnosed. The prevalence (how common it is) differs among groups of people.

Ankylosing spondylitis is more common in men than in women. It is often found in certain ethnic groups, such as Inuits of Alaska and Siberia. It is much less common in people whose family is Japanese or African.1

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Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis -- Symptoms

Not everyone develops all of the following symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis of the spine. What you experience depends on the severity of the condition: Stiffness and pain in the lower back, buttocks, and hips upon waking in the morning or after a period of inactivity Back pain relieved by movement and exercise Difficulty bending the spine Pain in the hips and difficulty walking Pain in the heels and soles of the feet Pain in the jaw, the temperomandibular joint (...

Read the Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis -- Symptoms article > >

The only clear risk factor for ankylosing spondylitis is having a close family member who has the condition. About 15 to 20 out of 100 people with ankylosing spondylitis have at least one family member who has it.1 Having a gene known as HLA-B27 and having frequent infections of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and other organs of digestion) may also increase your risk.


  1. Arnett FC (2008). Seronegative spondyloarthritis. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 3. New York: WebMD.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last Revised May 11, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 11, 2011
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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