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Ankylosing Spondylitis - Overview

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of chronic arthritis that most commonly affects the lower back. It is an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the vertebrae in the patient’s spine to fuse together. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunch-forward posture. It causes pain, stiffness and restriction of movement of the affected part. The pain and stiffness in the lower back is more in the morning after waking up from sleep and after sitting for long periods of time. The initial movements are painful. The pain reduces with continuous movement. Effective treatment can reduce pain, control symptoms and prevent the disease from getting worse.

The cause of ankylosing spondylitis is not very well understood, but the disease is believed to run in families. Another common aspect is the presence of a gene called HLA-B27, which is present since birth.

This disease is more common in men than in women. The disease usually starts during adolescence lasting until as late as 30s. Apart from affecting the lower back, the disease can affect other joints and body parts such as the eyes, lungs, heart as well as the digestive system.

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