Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is one of the diseases covered by the more general term 'spondylarthropathy'' which includes: reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) related arthritis, and some subtypes of juvenile chronic arthritis. In continental Europe, prevalence ranges from 0.2 to 1% of the whole population suggesting that this disease is far from being rare. However, it remains undiagnosed. The main symptoms are inflammatory spinal pain with subsequent limitation of spine mobility and chest expansion. Diagnosis is based both on the clinical signs, radiological signs (sacroiliitis) and presence of HLA-B27 antigen (genetic predisposition). Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy represent the cornerstones of therapy. In case of refractory severe disease, anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) agents are very promising.
Last update: February 2005