Health Resources

Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

AS is a type of arthritis mainly affecting the spine joints (back-bone) and the buttocks. Damaged joints lead to the spine stiffening and the back losing flexibility. AS usually affects teenagers and young adults below 40 years old.

What causes AS

The cause is unknown, but genetic factors exist, particularly with the presence of gene HLA B-27 in 90% of patients with AS.

What are the symptoms of AS
  • Back pain and stiffness, which usually starts from the lower back or neck, and persists over several months. The pain is usually worse in the morning and may wake you up at night. Rest does not make it better but exercise eases the pain.
  • Other joints, tendons and ligaments may also be affected. Sometimes the eye may become painful, red and inflamed.
How is AS diagnosed

Diagnosis is made based on a combination of a patient’s symptoms, blood tests and imaging studies such as x-rays or MRI.

What is the treatment for AS

The symptoms of AS can be alleviated, and joint damage can be prevented by prompt and appropriate treatment:

  • Exercise is the cornerstone of treatment for AS. A physiotherapist will teach you specific exercise routines for AS. In addition, non-spinal loading exercises such as swimming are very useful.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are useful for pain control and reduction of inflammation.
  • Biologics: These are targeted medications and are reserved for patients with severe disease in whom other treatments including NSAIDs have failed.
What should I do if I suspect I have AS

Seek a doctor’s advice. You may be referred to a specialist Rheumatologist who will confirm the diagnosis and start you on appropriate treatment.

This condition is managed by the Division of Rheumatology.
Last updated on
Best viewed with Chrome 79.0, Edge 112.0, Firefox 61.0, Safari 11
National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Back to Top