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Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis usually progress from chronic pain and stiffness of the lumbar area or the whole spine with simultaneous referred buttock pain or thigh pain. Men, who have a three-fold incidence of the disease compared to women, usually have a more rapid progression of the condition and more associated pain. The disease is insidious with the sacroiliac joint usually the first to be affected, resulting in morning stiffness, tenderness and pain in the lower back, and an easing of the condition during the day.

Other, less frequent symptoms include ectasia (dilation or distension) of the nerve root sheaths in the sacral nerve, aortitis (inflammation of the aorta), and apical lung fibrosis (excess connective tissue growth at the top of the lung). Respiratory restriction, dyspnoea and coughing are other symptoms associated with this fibrosis, as is a limit to chest expansion. This has ramifications for the surgical treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.

Cervical and Lumbar Ankylosing Spondylosis

Cervical ankylosis develops in approximately 75% of ankylosing spondylitis patients after sixteen or more years of the disease. At the onset, it is the lumbar spine that is more commonly found to be impacted by the disease. This is particularly true of juvenile ankylosing spondylitis onset, where shoulder impairment may occur initially alongside hip mobility problems. Clacification of joints and ligaments, bony growths, and forward curvature (kyphosis) of the spine are common. General fatigue and nausea also occur in this condition, often related to the pain experienced.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Progression

Inflammation in other parts of the body, including the eye, in conditions such as uveitis and iridocyclitis, is thought to be present in just under half of all cases according to the Arthritis Research Campaign (2009). Although the patient may feel inclined to rest this is often when pain is most severe, with some respite found from physical activity.

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Last Updated: 9/10/2010