9 Facts About Ankylosing Spondylitis, a Surprising Cause of Back Pain

3. Joints aren’t the only body parts affected by ankylosing spondylitis. “Besides the joints, manifestations of ankylosing spondylitis may include the eyes — with uveitis, which presents as acute eye pain, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light,” says Elyse Rubenstein, MD, a rheumatologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. It can also affect the cardiovascular system and is associated with aortic regurgitation, she says, in which blood in the heart flows in the reverse direction. Also, the pulmonary system can be at risk for developing lung abnormalities.

4. Men are at greater risk for ankylosing spondylitis. The condition occurs 2 times as often in men than it does in women, according to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Other risk factors include having the HLA-B27 genetic marker (a gene found in 90 to 95 percent of people with ankylosing spondylitis), having a family history of AS, and experiencing frequent gastrointestinal infections.

5. Ankylosing spondylitis can be to blame for a “hunchback” appearance. “When ankylosing spondylitis affects the upper part of the neck, it can create significant kyphosis — the medical term for a hunched back — and cause the head to collapse forward, resulting in a chin-on-chest deformity,” says Neel Anand, MD, medical director of spine trauma surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles. “People with kyphosis are unable to look straight, as their neck is stiffened in a downward gaze position.”

Next page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *