Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that mainly affects the back. It’s one of a group of inflammatory conditions, referred to as spondyloarthritis.

Spondylitis simply means inflammation of the spine. As part of the body’s reaction to inflammation, calcinosis occurs in ligaments that attach to the vertebrae. This causes bone to grow from the sides of the vertebrae. Eventually the individual bones of the spine may fuse and loose flexibility. This is called ankylosis.

It often starts in your late teens or 20s.

Related conditions:


Reach out for a RHEUMATOLOGIST if you have any of these symptoms:

Other possible symptoms include:


Most people with ankylosing spondylitis have a gene called HLA-B27, which can be detected by a blood test. However, this gene doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get ankylosing spondylitis. It is estimated that only 1 in 15 people with the gene will actually develop this condition.


No specific test will confirm you have ankylosing spondylitis, so diagnosis involves piecing together:


  1. Painkillers and NSAIDs are usually the first choice of treatment, tablets/gels
  2. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) like sulfasalazine
    • They are slow-acting so you won’t notice an immediate impact on your condition, but they can make a big difference to your symptoms over a period of time.
  3. Biological therapies (anti-TNF drugs or anti IL 17) are effective treatments.Your rheumatologist would guide you if you need them.
  4. Steroids: used as a short-term treatment for flare-ups. They’re usually given as an injection into a swollen joint
  5. Physiotherapy is a very important part of the treatment
    • It’s especially important to exercise your back and neck to avoid them stiffening into a bent position


If you have ankylosing spondylitis, there’s A SMALL CHANCE that your children will also develop it (ONLY 15% )

If you think your child or another relative might have ankylosing spondylitis, ask them to see a rheumatologist as soon as possible as there’s a history of ankylosing spondylitis in the family.