Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms
Progressive SymptomsAs ankylosing spondylitis progresses, back movement can gradually become limited as the bones of the spine (vertebrae) fuse together. Joint stiffness or a limited range of motion in certain joints is called "ankylosis." This may make it difficult to perform certain activities, like putting on shoes and socks.
Over time, ankylosing spondylitis can affect the joints between the spine and ribs, restricting movement of the chest and making it difficult to breathe.
Symptoms Affecting the Eyes, Heart, or LungsAnkylosing spondylitis affects the eyes in up to 40 percent of cases, leading to episodes of eye inflammation called acute iritis. Acute iritis causes:
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Excessive tearing
- Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia).
Acute iritis requires immediate medical attention. Healthcare providers treat it with medicines, and usually it improves within three months. Sometimes, eye problems occur before the joint symptoms.
Rarely, ankylosing spondylitis can also result in serious complications involving the heart and lungs. The most common problem in the heart in such cases is a leaking aortic valve (aortic regurgitation). This can eventually cause congestive heart failure symptoms. Lung problems associated with ankylosing spondylitis can include slowly progressive fibrosis of the upper part of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis).
A person with ankylosing spondylitis may also experience fever, excessive tiredness, muscle aches or pain, a decrease in red blood cells (anemia), and weight loss. These systemic symptoms are more common in children with ankylosing spondylitis than they are in adults with the condition.
It is also possible for a person with ankylosing spondylitis to have bowel inflammation, which can be associated with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.