Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton and falls within the spondyloarthritis family of rheumatic diseases that cause arthritis. While it generally affects the spine, it can sometimes involve other joints and can cause bone spurs in the body, including on the feet. In advanced cases, the spondyloarpathy can cause new bone to grow that fuses the spinal bones to fuse together.
Signs and symptoms generally begin occurring in early adulthood, with inflammation in the eyes being one of most common early symptoms. Pain and stiffness in your lower back and hips also could signify ankylosing spondylitis, especially if the pain is worse in the morning or wakes you in the second half of the night. Over time, kyphosis, or a forward-hunching posture, could develop.
At this time, there is no known cause of ankylosing spondylitis, though many experts agree that genetics are involved. For example, over 95% of Caucasians with the condition have the HLA-B27 gene variation. In addition, men are more likely to develop ankylosing spondylitis than women.
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, and treatment typically involves a combination of medication and physical therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation.