Ankylosing Spondylitis Information on Risk Factors & Treatment

Pathological changes

Ankylosing spondylitis causes changes to occur in your body because of the inflammation it causes in the areas where skeletal bones are attached to tendons, ligaments, discs or joints. It typically affects the sacroiliac joints, where the lower back meets the pelvis, and begins with inflammation in this area (sacroiliitis).

In the spinal column, AS starts in the fibrous tissues of the discs between the vertebrae. Ankylosing spondylitis causes inflammation that leads to the breakdown of the tissues and, over time, makes them thickened and rigid. This leads to stiffness of the spine, and pain due to compression of the nerve roots.

Eventually, the prolonged and recurrent inflammation of ankylosing spondylitis can result in a complete fusion or cementing together of the bones of the spine (vertebrae). This fusion is called ankylosis. When the spine is fused, it loses its mobility.

Because it is a systemic inflammatory disease, ankylosing spondylitis can affect other areas of the body away from the spine, such as the kidneys, heart, lungs and eyes.