The most common form of Spondylitis is known as Ankylosing Spondylitis and is categorized by the inflammation and unnatural fusion of spinal joints. Spondylitis causes the inflammation of the spinal joints and, in an effort to heal this inflammation, the body may try to form new bone in the inflamed area. When these new bones fuse to existing spinal structures stiffness, pain and other symptoms may occur. Severe cases can result in cardiac and respiratory difficulties. In some cases the spine fuses in an unnatural position impairing walking as the patient cannot stand upright so the eyes can see where the person is walking.
The exact cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis is not yet clear but some research has suggested that those with a gene known as HLA-B27 are at a higher risk for this condition.
The pain associated with Spondylitis usually appears gradually and will continue to get worse as the condition progresses. Spondylitis can occur in both the cervical or lumbar spine.
Symptoms of Spondylitis can include:
- Progressive neck or back pain
- Pain that radiates into the extremities
- Stiffness of the spine
- Respiratory difficulties