5. AS symptoms aren’t limited to the joints
“Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic inflammatory condition,” says Dr. Kumar. “We see it more in the joints because it causes the most pain in people, but AS can affect all kinds of other organs.” As a type of spondyloarthritis, AS also can be associated with symptoms related to other diseases under the umbrella, such as psoriasis and IBD. AS is linked with to red, irritated, painful eyes, a condition known as uveitis. In more severe, less controlled cases, the inflammation from AS can even increase the risk of heart problems.
6. Fatigue is a major AS symptom
Fatigue — full-body exhaustion that goes beyond just feeling tired from not enough sleep — is a common complaint in many different kinds of chronic illness. AS is no exception. One study found that about 65 percent of AS patients report fatigue as a symptom.
7. AS strikes the young
Although we tend to associate arthritis with middle age, inflammatory arthritis tends to first occur at younger ages. And of those, AS hits particularly young — about 80 percent of patients will experience their first symptoms before age 30; a mere 5 percent will notice the signs at 45 or older, according to Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center.
8. AS can affect men and women differently
Men are more likely than women to develop AS, though doctors aren’t sure why. There also seem to be sex differences in how the disease affects male vs. female patients. A 2018 research review found that men tend to have more and faster radiographic damage, while women are more likely to have more non-joint symptoms like psoriasis and IBD, and higher disease activity.