Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a chronic (long-term) type of inflammatory arthritis that causes stiffness and pain in the back.
Ankylosing means the fusion or melding of two bones into one. Spondylitis means inflammation of the spine. Chronic inflammation causes the spine to become stiff and inflexible.
Systemic Autoimmune Disease
Ankylosing Spondylitis is an autoimmune disease. This means that it is caused by the body's immune system attacking its own healthy cells and tissues by mistake. The reason why it does this is not well understood.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is called a systemic rheumatic disease because it can also affect other parts of the body including the eyes, lungs, and bowels.
Importance of Early Treatment
It is very important that Ankylosing Spondylitis is diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
Treatment prevents damage that can have crippling effects over time, and can reduce the risk of other problems associated with chronic inflammation such as heart disease, and the worsening of other health conditions.