8 Myths About Ankylosing Spondylitis: Debunked


There are tons of forms of arthritis and other chronic conditions that lead to pain. Well-known arthritic conditions are psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. But, another sneakier condition is called ankylosing spondylitis (an-kih-loh-sing spon-di-ly-tis). Hard to say and sometimes even harder to diagnose. Many people are misdiagnosed a few times before getting the right diagnosis. These misdiagnoses can be frustrating and lead to the wrong treatment

This is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, but it also affects many other areas of the body. There are many myths about ankylosing spondylitis. We’re here to debunk eight of them. Curious to find out more? Keep reading.

Ankylosing Spondylitis only affects the back

While the back is the main target of this form of arthritis because ankylosing spondylitis inflames the joints of the spine and pelvis, other areas include the shoulders, the knees, the heels of the feet, the thighs, the ribs, the hands, and the neck.

In 40% of cases, ankylosing spondylitis also affects the eyes. In some rare cases, it may damage the lungs or heart. Stiffness from inflamed joints may happen in the rib cage, which can make it hard to breathe.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is an older person’s condition

No, this is very false. Most people who have ankylosing spondylitis are diagnosed between 15 and 30 years of age. Also, it’s rarely diagnosed after 45. This condition has nothing to do with age, and it isn’t anyone’s fault.


Ankylosing Spondylitis is more common in women

Nope. Ankylosing Spondylitis is 2 – 3 times more common in men. Factors include the HLA B27 genetic marker, a family history of Ankylosing Spondylitis, and many recurring gastrointestinal infections.

Men’s joint damage tends to happen more and spread faster, while women have other non-joint issues like psoriasis and irritable bowel disease (IBD). So, the next time someone is moving slow or using the bathroom for a long time, cut them some slack.

Ankylosing Spondylitis doesn’t affect posture severely

In some people, Ankylosing Spondylitis can be severe. This may lead to a hunchback when arthritis attacks the upper part of the neck. The head collapses forward and restricts movement, so the person is unable to look straight. Yes, this can be hard to maneuver, but people do it.

More rest will equal less pain

When you have pain, you may want to rest. With Ankylosing Spondylitis, there’s actually more pain after resting. Inflamed joints will become stiffer without movement. It’s recommended to exercise or take a hot bath or shower to lower discomfort.

Though, ironically, Ankylosing Spondylitis causes extreme fatigue. Like, having the flu, fatigue. Many people have full-body exhaustion that can’t be cured with more sleep. This is common in chronic conditions. With Ankylosing Spondylitis, around 65% of people experience this fatigue! It can make it hard to get things done, so they have to take daily activities one step at a time.

Exercise will make Ankylosing Spondylitis worse

While rest can make the pain worse, exercise will improve flexibility. But, it’s essential to do the right exercises and talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regime. When starting, choose easy activities and build up to more intensive exercising. Working out in a pool is a great way to get exercise with less pain. The water can lessen the weight on the joints and build endurance. Also, there are many fun activities and people to meet by the pool.

It’s crucial to keep your spine as straight as possible, when possible.

Ankylosing Spondylitis always leads to a fused spine and severe disability

Nope, false. Different people have different forms of Ankylosing Spondylitis. Some people have mild symptoms, others have severe symptoms, and still, others have a combination of the two.

There may be flare-ups of mild to severe inflammation, back pain, or stiffness, but the progression of this chronic and incurable condition is different from person to person.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a rare condition

Nah. 1 in 200 adults worldwide have Ankylosing Spondylitis. Some of them may not even know they have this condition. According to the Arthritis Foundation, half a million Americans have this condition.

There are many things you can do to improve your quality of life. First, talk with your doctor, then come up with a treatment plan, and continue moving as much as possible to preserve flexibility. We hope you enjoy debunking these myths about Ankylosing Spondylitis.