Ankylosing spondylitis

What is ankylosing spondylitis?


Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory condition of the spine which produces pain, stiffness, deformity and disability throughout adult life. Those most severely affected may develop the characteristic fused, curved spine of AS which means that they cannot lift or turn their head easily and this has a major impact on their life and their ability to form simple tasks like crossing the road safely. AS may also affect the eyes, lungs, bowel, skin and heart.


The disease usually starts in the late teens or early twenties. The average age when symptoms start is 24.


AS is a chronic progressive condition. It is usually experienced as a background level of disease against which people experience periods when symptoms are more severe called flares.


It affects more men than women: around 1 in 200 men is affected and 1 in 500 women. However it is difficult to produce accurate figures because it is a condition which is challenging to diagnose and often overlooked.


The Department of Health’s figures is that there are 200,000 people diagnosed with AS in the UK.


For further information on Ankylosing Spondylitis see:


Organisations who can help


Arthritis Care


Arthritis Care exists to support people with all forms of arthritis. They are the UK’s largest charity working with and for all people who have arthritis. Arthritis Care campaigns for change and offers practical support and information so that people can learn to take control of their arthritis and make positive changes to their lives.
Helpline: 0808 800 4050  General enquiries: 020 7380 6500


Arthritis Research UK


Versus Arthritis is the charity leading the fight against arthritis by funding high class research, providing information and campaigning.
Helpline: 0800 5200 520


National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS)


NASS is the only registered charity in the UK working exclusively for people with AS and their families.
Phone: 020 8948 9117