How does Ankylosing Spondylitis progress?

Whenever one speaks about Ankylosing spondylitis, I’m sure picture of a man with a hunchback & restricted mobility comes to your mind. This famous photograph from the ACR library clearly describes what a patient with Ankylosing spondylitis goes through in his life. Ever wondered what really happens behind the curtain?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory arthritis affecting the sacroiliac joints (joints beneath the buttocks), vertebral joints & the hips. The joints get inflamed & persistent inflammation in the long run leads to formation of new bone.

The inflammation is responsible for the pain & the bone formation leads to restriction in movements of the spine.

Let us have a look at a simple example to understand this. The spine is similar to multiple matchboxes hung by a set of flexible threads. The flexibility of the threads is responsible for the movements of the spine. However, if you put wax on the threads & let it set, the threads do not bend. This is exactly what happens with Ankylosing Spondylitis. The threads are akin to the ligaments of the vertebrae & the matchboxes to individual vertebrae. Once the threads become hardened by inflammation (wax) the mobility is lost.

final box

The hardened ligaments give the typical tram track or bamboo spine appearance on the X-Ray.

Ankylosing spondylitis progression xray 2

Ankylosing spondylitis progression xray final 1

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5 Responses to How does Ankylosing Spondylitis progress?

  1. I visit everyday a few blogs and websites to read articles or reviews, however this
    blog offers quality based articles.

  2. Your posts gives us good information. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Raghuvir K Trifale says:

    Thanks Dr. for explaining “Ankylosing Spondylitis” in a very simple way. Even layman can understand this. Thanks once again!!!

  4. Byron C. Trott says:

    I am 71 years old and have had AS since age 9. It began with swolen ankles and pain. I was misdiagnosed most of my life with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
    I had a 9 year remission during which I was able to tolerate the pain with Asperin.
    Shortly (age 17) I had an exhaberbation again with bed rest which resulted in bilateral hip and knee contractures.

    Byron

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