Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis -- Symptoms

What Are the 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 temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Bent-over posture
  • Straightening of the normal curvature of the spine
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Fatigue, decreased energy
  • Eye swelling, redness, and pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath (because expanding the chest is difficult and painful)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart block (problems with the flow of the electrical impulses that control your heart muscle)
  • Bowel inflammation like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

Call Your Doctor About Ankylosing Spondylitis If:

You develop symptoms such as persistent lower-back pain, especially if it is stiff in the morning but improves with movement and exercise

You have redness or swelling in the eye, or are abnormally sensitive to light; you could have iritis, a condition commonly associated with ankylosing spondylitis.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on July 20, 2019



American College of Rheumatology. 

The Mayo Clinic. 

Spondylitis Association of America. 


Reveille, J.Am J Med Sci., 2011 Apr; 341(4): 284–286.

Brown, M. Arthritis & Rheumatism, Dec. 2005.

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