Ankylosing spondylitis is a disease of the joints especially of the spine, found commonly in early twenties or later. It is a type of chronic degenerative arthritis, where there is long standing inflammation of the spinal vertebrae, predominantly the joints between the spine and pelvis (sacroiliac joints), affecting more of the neck and/or lower back.
Ankylosing spondylitis is also called as Marie-Strumpell arthritis, Bechterew’s disease or Pierre- Marie’s disease. The name is derived from the Greek word where, “ankylos” means fusion or stiffening , “spondylos” means vertebra and “itis” means inflammation. As the name suggests, it leads to progressive fusion of the joints of the spine leading to painful stiffness of the back.
The patient is often seen walking with a stoop posture due to a rigid spine in the later stages. Hence it is also called as “bamboo” spine, as in the X ray film the spine looks stiff like a bamboo.
Ankylosing spondylitis majorly affects the spine, but it can also involve the ribs, eyes, heart, lungs etc.