Rheumatic diseases aren’t always fully understood. When patients who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis and other inflammatory disorders need answers, they’re the ones who pay the price. About 1% of Americans suffer from ankylosing spondylitis (AS), though researchers have yet to find any specific known ankylosing spondylitis causes. Some suspect it may be genetic, but there is no consensus.

To raise awareness of ankylosing spondylitis, we’re educating everyone, opening up new opportunities, and studying the disease ourselves.

Here we’ll cover the basics of ankylosing spondylitis: what it is, its causes, risk factors, and treatments, and what you can do to help.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Overview

An inflammatory disease, ankylosing spondylitis is a rare form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine. In advanced cases of AS, this inflammation can lead to ankylosis, which causes your vertebrae to fuse in an immobile, permanent position.

With ankylosing spondylitis, your spine loses flexibility, and you may adopt a hunched posture. Sometimes the ribs are affected as well, which causes breathing problems.

Inflammation may occur in other areas of the body, the eyes being the most common. Rarely, the lungs and heart may also be affected. Ankylosing spondylitis is more prevalent in men than women and typically manifests in early adulthood.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Causes

While there are no specific ankylosing spondylitis causes, some genetic factors are common in those with the condition. People with the gene HLA-B27 have a much greater risk of developing ankylosing spondylitis, though not everyone with the gene develops the disease. 

The gene HLA-B27 produces a genetic marker – a protein – found in more than 95% of Caucasians with ankylosing spondylitis. While HLA-B27 seems to be an indicator of AS in the Caucasian population, the association doesn’t hold with other ethnic and racial groups.

Individuals with a family history of ankylosing spondylitis have a significantly greater chance of developing the disease. Age may also play a factor.


Risk Factors of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Anyone can develop ankylosing spondylitis; however, people with the following traits are more at risk:

1) Male

  • Men are twice as likely to develop ankylosing spondylitis than women.

2) Young Age 

  • Ankylosing spondylitis typically begins in early adulthood or late adolescence. It is common for individuals between the ages of 20 – 40 to develop the disease.

3) Genetics

  • Ankylosing spondylitis tends to run in families.
  • Most people with ankylosing spondylitis also have the gene HLA-B27, though not everyone with HLA-B27 has AS.

4) Other Health Issues 

  • Those with another autoimmune disease (such as ulcerative colitis or psoriasis) or who get frequent gastrointestinal infections have a higher risk of developing AS.


Treatments and Medical Advancements

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. Treatments are focused on relieving symptoms. But, there is hope! 

Researchers are using clinical research studies to test a new, advanced drug that can slow the development of ankylosing spondylitis and improve related symptoms. They believe this new drug may produce better results for patients with AS than the treatments of today.


Join the Cause!

Advanced Rheumatology of Houston is conducting a research study to investigate new drugs and treatments for ankylosing spondylitis. 

Clinical research studies allow you to participate in medical advancements that can improve your life and the lives of others. Consider joining a research study today and see what the Best Rheumatologist in Houston can do for you! 

If you’re interested in participating in the ankylosing spondylitis research study, contact Advanced Rheumatology of Houston at 281-884-9844, or learn more here