What is ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?

Inflammation plays a big role.

Multiple grey circle target icon.

Lower back pain is a common health problem. It is typically caused by injury or strain to the back, known as mechanical back pain. But your back pain could also be signaling a more serious condition.

Ankylosing spondylitis—pronounced ANK-ki-low-sing spon-di-LIE-tis—is a chronic inflammatory disease. AS occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints, mainly in the spine. This immune response causes inflammation, which contributes to pain and stiffness in these joints. This is known as inflammatory back pain. Because AS is a chronic disease, there is no known cure, and the focus is on controlling symptoms. If left untreated, over time the pain and stiffness of AS can become persistent and can occur in other parts of the body.

The AS symptom quiz will help you identify if the back pain and stiffness you’re experiencing could be ankylosing spondylitis, so you can partner with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.


Differences in two types of back pain.

Mechanical Back Pain

  • Caused by a specific injury or strain to the back, like lifting too much weight
  • Very common, occurring at least once in 85% of adults younger than 50
  • Alleviated by rest
  • Lasts less than 4-6 weeks

Inflammatory Back Pain

  • Caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissue, resulting in inflammation in the joints of the spine

    • Back pain associated with AS is inflammatory in nature
  • Worsens with rest or inactivity, especially at night or early morning
  • Tends to be eased by exercise or movement
  • Back pain is chronic—lasts more than 3 months

Could you have ankylosing spondylitis?

Find out if your symptoms may point to an inflammatory condition like AS.


Quick poll.

How long have you been experiencing back pain and stiffness?

How long have you been experiencing back pain and stiffness?

Because back pain is common, it can take years for AS to be diagnosed. That’s why it’s important to identify if your back pain could be an inflammatory disease such as AS and get a proper diagnosis. Take the symptom quiz, then partner with a doctor to discuss your treatment options.


Risk factors for AS.

Sand timer icon depicting possible ankylosing spondylitis risk factor- age

Age

AS typically begins before age 40

Female and male icon depicting possible ankylosing spondylitis risk factor- gender.

Gender

AS is more common in men; however, women may be underdiagnosed

Three DNA icon depicting possible ankylosing spondylitis risk factor- genetics.

Genetics

Testing positive for a gene called HLA-B27, in addition to having a family member with AS


Learn about another treatment option for ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Is AS keeping you from reaching your treatment goals? A once-daily pill could help.

See what's possible