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Common Ankylosing Spondylitis Questions

What is ankylosing spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by pain and progressive stiffness. It mainly affects the spine, but other parts of the body can be affected as well. AS is part of a group of rheumatic diseases termed seronegative spondyloarthropathies. "Spondyloarthopathy" is the medical term for a disease that affects the vertebral joints.

What causes ankylosing spondylitis?
The precise cause of ankylosing spondylitis isn't known, but the medical community does have some ideas about what could cause it. They think it may be hereditary, and AS possibly has a connection to certain bacteria.

What are the non-surgical options for treating ankylosing spondylitis?

  • Bracing
  • Exercise
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy (PT)
  • Self-care techniques

For more detailed information about the non-surgical treatment options for ankylosing spondylitis, please read this article.

What if I need surgery?
Most patients with ankylosing spondylitis don't need surgery. However, there may come a time when your doctor will recommend surgery. If, for example, there's neurologic deficit—meaning that there are problems with the nerves—the doctor may recommend surgery.

To treat ankylosing spondylitis, several surgical procedures are available to the spinal surgeon. The surgeon will recommend the best procedure for you, based on various factors (age, location of the deformity, severity of the deformity, etc.). Some spinal procedures used to treat ankylosing spondylitis are:

  • Osteotomy
  • Decompression
  • Spinal Instrumentation and Fusion

For more detailed information on the types of surgery for ankylosing spondylitis, please read this article. It also gives details on post-operative recovery time.

Updated on: 04/05/12
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When you have ankylosing spondylitis, you need to work on keeping a straight spine and good posture. The Spondylitis Association of America has easy daily exercises for you to help enhance your posture.
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