Ankylosing spondylitis is a protracted inflammatory condition that can affect various joints of the body including the eyes and intestines, but most frequently, it targets the spine. Doctors classify it as a variety of spinal arthritis to clearly distinguish it from common back injuries. It is also potentially much more harmful than common back problems because it may eventually impede the patient's mobility and damage their eyesight. Genetic factors influence which individuals develop this disease. Studies link it with the HLA-B27 gene. Ankylosing spondylitis usually first appears in the teenage years, with males three times more likely to develop it than females.
Ankylosing spondylitis and regular back injuries may start in the same way. The patient tells the doctor that they strained a muscle, and shortly afterward, the back pains started. However, the pains associated with ankylosing spondylitis come from an inflammation of the spine rather than trauma, and therefore the treatment required differs. Another indicator that this is not standard back pain comes from the fact that back stiffness in the morning continues for more than half an hour.
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