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Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis

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What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Although the cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown, there is a strong genetic or family link. Most, but not all, people with spondylitis carry a gene called HLA-B27. Although people carrying this gene are more likely to develop spondylitis, it is also found in up to 10% of people who have no signs of the condition.

How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis is based on several factors, including:

  • Symptoms
  • Findings of an physical exam
  • X-rays of the back and pelvis
  • Measurements of the chest when breathing
  • Results of lab tests

How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Treated?

There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but there are treatments that can reduce discomfort and improve function. The goals of treatment are to reduce pain and stiffness, maintain a good posture, prevent deformity, and preserve the ability to perform normal activities. When properly treated, people with ankylosing spondylitis may lead fairly normal lives. Under ideal circumstances, a team approach to treat spondylitis is recommended. Members of the treatment team typically include the patient, doctor, physical therapist, and occupational therapist. In patients with severe deformities, osteotomy and fusion can be done.

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