is a type of inflammatory arthritis that attacks the spine, and can also attack the joints of the arms and legs, the skin, intestines and eyes. Low back pain and prolonged morning stiffness are usually the first symptoms, often in young males. It can lead to fusion of the spine by causing inflammation at the entheses, the site where a tendon or ligament attach to bone.
Diagnosis might require x-rays and possibly MRI scan of the sacroiliac joints of the lower back and a HLA-B27 blood test is commonly positive. Treatment is with stretching exercises to prevent loss of flexibility and NSAIDs. If there is not improvement, Sulfasalazine and anti-TNF biologic medications (Enbrel www.enbrel.com, Humira, Cimzia www.cimzia.com, Simponi www.simponi.com, Remicade www.remicade.com, and Simponi Aria www.simponiaria.com) can be helpful treatments. Surgery for the spine is rarely needed unless there has been an injury, but hip joints might need to be replaced in late disease.
Other problems can be osteoporosis, uveitis or painful inflammation of the eye(s), aortic valve inflammation is rare, psoriasis is a patchy scaly skin disease, and inflammation of the gut which can cause excessive stools and possibly blood and mucous. It is important to exercise with stretching and to not smoke tobacco, which can speed up the rate of spinal fusion. The Spondylitis Association of America www.spondylitis.org has further information available.