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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of chronic arthritis that affects parts of the spine, including the bones, muscles and ligaments. Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation of the joints and tissues around them.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of chronic arthritis that affects parts of the spine, including the:
  • bones
  • muscles
  • ligaments

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation of the joints and tissues around them.

The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can vary, but most people experience back pain and stiffness. The condition can be severe, with around 1 in 10 people at risk of long-term disability.

The spine

The spine is made up of a column of interlocking bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are supported by muscles and ligaments that control the movements of the spine.

In ankylosing spondylitis, the spinal joints and ligaments and the sacroiliac joints (the joints at the base of the spine) become inflamed. Inflammation in the spine can cause pain and stiffness in the neck and back. Sacroiliitis (inflammation of the sacroiliac joints) causes pain in the lower back and buttocks.

How common is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis can develop at any time from the teenage years onwards. It is three times more common in men than in women. The condition usually occurs between 15 and 35 years of age, and rarely starts in old age.

Estimates of different European populations suggest that ankylosing spondylitis may affect between 2-5 adults in every 1,000. In the UK, around 200,000 people have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.

Prognosis

There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. However, the condition can be treated with:

  • physiotherapy – where physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, are used to improve comfort and spinal flexibility
  • medication – helps to relieve pain and control the symptoms

The progression of ankylosing spondylitis varies among people. It is estimated that 70-90% of people will remain independent and only minimally disabled by the condition.

After around 10 years the inflammation may make the neck and back rigid. This process is called ankylosis. In some people who have severe, long-standing ankylosis, their rib cage can also become stiff and inflexible.

Contact us

For further questions relating to Ankylosing Spondylitis or to book an appointment, call us on 020 3370 1030 or email spinespecialists@hje.org.uk

Spine Clinic

The Spine Clinic at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is a centre for excellence in the diagnosis, intervention and aftercare of all spinal conditions.

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Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, ENT, as well as a private GP practice and our urgent care centre, Casualty First, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information then get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 3370 1030.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

 If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP.

If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRI’s a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

    Make an enquiry

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