Ankylosing SpondylitisAS Symptoms

Let's Talk About Ankylosing Spondylitis Signs and Symptoms

Is that lower back pain and stiffness due to normal wear and tear or something more serious like the inflammatory condition ankylosing spondylitis? We've got the doctor-approved details to help you know the difference.

    Our Pro PanelAnkylosing Spondylitis Signs and Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts on ankylosing spondylitis to bring you the most up-to-date information possible:

    Anca Askanase, M.D. headshot.

    Anca Askanase, M.D.Rheumatologist, Director of Rheumatology Clinical Trials

    Columbia University Medical Center
    New York City
    Howard Blumstein, M.D. headshot.

    Howard Blumstein, M.D.Rheumatologist, Clinical Professor of Medicine

    Stony Brook University
    Smithtown, NY
    Jonathan Greer, M.D. headshot.

    Jonathan Greer, M.D.Rheumatologist, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine

    University of Miami
    Palm Beach, FL

    Frequently Asked QuestionsAnkylosing Spondylitis Signs and Symptoms

    What kind of a doctor should I go to for AS?

    You can start with your primary care doctor to help rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, but you’ll need to move on to a rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment. Rheumatologists treat all types of musculoskeletal diseases, but some specialize in AS and other forms of spondyloarthritis—and they’ll be best at helping you manage your condition.

    What’s the connection between AS and IBD?

    Scientists are still trying to answer that question, but it’s known that people with both illnesses, an umbrella condition known as enteropathic arthritis, share similar and important genetic traits. Research shows that if you have a first-degree relative (parent, child, or sibling) with AS, you’re three times more likely to develop Crohn’s disease (a form of IBD), and vice versa.

    Why does AS make me so tired?

    It’s complicated, but here’s the nutshell explanation: When there’s inflammation present, extra proteins known as cytokines are produced and run amok in the body. Your immune system must work harder to fight them, using up a lot of your energy. Fortunately, the newest class of medications, known as biologics, can help because they inhibit cytokine production.

    Am I going to be able to keep working with AS?

    In many cases, yes, but adjustments will likely need to be made. If you work at a desk, you’ll need to find ways to build movement into your day and try strategies like elevating your computer screen to avoid bending down. Physical jobs can be more challenging if your mobility is impaired, so you may need to consider a career change eventually.

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood is a award-winning freelance writer and former magazine editor specializing in health, nutrition, wellness, and parenting.