The condition known as ankylosing spondylitis is a relatively rare form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints. The condition is characterized as a progressive stiffening of a group of joints and ligaments in the spinal column, causing chronic pain and impaired mobility of the spine. As the patient's spine becomes more rigid, multiple small stress fractures may develop and these fractures can be quite painful.
If it becomes severe, ankylosing spondylitis can also lead to the fusion (joining together) of the spinal ligaments and discs between the vertebrae.
For patients with ankylosing spondylitis, gravity tends to pull the body forward, and the patient may develop a flexed forward posture. The spine may be realigned through a complex surgical procedure that carries a risk of neurological injury.
Ankylosing spondylitis is also a systemic rheumatic disease that can lead to the inflammation of other joints and other organs, such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Ankylosing spondylitis is most prevalent in younger males.