Ankylosing spondylitis is an arthritic disease that affects the vertebrae of the spine. Women report more involvement in other joints then men such as the hips, ribs, shoulder, hands and feet.
Inflammation creates pain in the joints and can cause the ligaments to react producing bony processes that can fuse the bones. Fusion can cause movement to be difficult and very painful. Eventually, a curvature of the spine that bends forward called kyphosis can develop.
Ankylosing spondylitis statistics reported in this article are derived from the U.S. National Library of Medicine October 2010 and the Spondylosis Association of America 2009.
Who is at risk?
According to the Spondylosis Association of America, men are two to three times more likely to acquire the disease than women. The onset of the disease is between 17 and 35 years of age. People over the age of 45 are less likely to develop the disease.
It affects 1 in 1,000 persons. The Center for Disease Control estimates there are 2.4 million people with the disease. Some researchers believe the incidence is even greater at 1 in 200 persons.
Finding a distinctive cause for the disease has been difficult. Research has discovered that people with the gene HLA-B27 may be predisposed to the disease.
Ninety percent of people with the disease have the gene but only 10 percent of the people with the gene will develop the disease. Ninety-five percent of Caucasians have the gene.
Aside from the presence of the HLA-B27 gene a family history of the disease and multiple gastrointestinal infections seem to be present in most cases. It is believed that infection from the gastrointestinal system causes the breakdown of bacteria that enters the blood stream and into the joints. This chronic condition may cause inflammation and eventual fusion of the bone.
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis but there are treatments that can reduce the symptoms of the disease. Mild treatment of the disease includes medication, exercise, hot and cold packs on the inflamed area, and practicing good posture. This type of treatment is affective in 80 percent of cases. Surgery is only used in severe cases involving joint replacement of the hips, and knees. Laminectomy, excision of the lamina between the vertebrae is used as a treatment. Ninety percent of surgical cases report relief.
Ankylosing spondylitis statistics shows that 40 percent of sufferers will develop eye problems. As reported by MedLine Plus on October 13, 2010, acute iritis is an inflammation of the iris that results in a severe sensitivity to light. The condition can be debilitating. Anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve some symptoms.
Other severe complications can include pulmonary fibrosis, a condition of the lungs caused from a stiffening of the tissue, and aortic insufficiency, constriction of the aorta.
Ankylosing spondylitis is not curable but is treatable. The Spondylitis Association of America offers educational and support material to those afflicted with the condition.
Cleveland Clinic: Spondylolisthesis - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/Back_Pain/hic_Spondylolisthesis.aspx
Spondylitis Association of America: Ankylosis Spondylitis - https://www.spondylitis.org/about/as.aspx
MedlinePlus: Genetics Home Reference Ankylosis Spondylitis - https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/ankylosing-spondylitis