Signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) are related to joints and organs affected by the disease. General symptoms that may be experienced by a person with AS include feeling generally unwell, tiredness, weight loss or anaemia. Read to know more on the symptoms of AS.
Back pain: This is the most common and significant symptom of AS. In most cases, the pain starts in the lower back, which is mild and something that a person tends to take as a simple backache at first. Gradually, the pain becomes worse over several months. The pain may involve the buttocks and go down the back of your thighs. The buttock pain may be felt, sometimes, on the right side and other times on the left side. Activities such as coughing or straining may worsen the pain. Unlike many other types of arthritic pain, rest does not improve the pain. In fact, the pain may be more after waking up from sleep or exercise and movement may decrease the pain. The pain is usually worse in the morning after waking up and tends to ease as the day progresses.
Stiffness in the lower spine: You may have stiffness of spine, which makes bending and other activities difficult. The stiffness is usually worse in the morning after waking up and tends to ease with activity and as the day progresses. If the middle (chest part) of the spine is affected, the joints between the ribs and the spine become painful and stiff. These people may have pain and difficulty in taking deep breathes.
Other joint symptoms: apart from the spine, other joints that may be involved include the hips, knees, ankles and shoulders. You may have pain, stiffness, heat, swelling, warmth and/or redness in the affected joint.
Symptoms of tendons and ligaments involvement: Tendons and ligaments in other parts of the body apart from those that are attached to the vertebrae of the lower spine can become inflamed. Some common tendons and ligaments that may be involved include the Achilles tendon where it attaches to the heel and chest muscles tendons, which are attached to the ribs. Achilles tendinitis can cause pain and stiffness in the back of the heel. This may be particularly evident when pushing off while climbing stairs. Involvement of cartilage and ligaments around the breast bone may cause pain on coughing and tenderness on touching. Inflammation of the tissues at the bottom of the foot called plantar fascia (plantar fasciitis) can cause pain and tenderness of feet.
Inflammation of eye: Inflammation of structures of the eye such as iris and uvea can occur in AS. Eye can be involved in about one third of people with AS at least once. Signs and symptoms of iritis or uevitis include pain in eyes, watery and red eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to bright light.
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