Ankylosing Spondylitis FAQs
What causes ankylosing spondylitis?
According to medical research, nine out of ten people diagnosed with AS carry a gene called human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27). However, having the gene doesn’t mean you will develop AS; it just makes you more prone to it. Research suggests that one or more environmental factors can trigger AS, but there still are no definite causes.
How common is ankylosing spondylitis?
AS is an uncommon health condition, with the average GP only seeing one new case per year. According to NICE research, the prevalence of ankylosing spondylitis is believed to range from 0.05% to 0.23% [NICE, 2016]. AS most commonly develops between the ages of 20 and 30, and there is a strong familial association associated with the HLA-B27 antigen.
How fast does ankylosing spondylitis progress?
While there is no cure for AS, there is treatment available to help relieve the symptoms and help to slow down or stall the progression of the spine fusing and stiffening. AS treatment plans use a multidisciplinary approach combining medication, physiotherapy, exercise and lifestyle changes.
How to sleep with ankylosing spondylitis?
People with AS find it challenging to sleep, with insomnia, waking during the night and feeling uncomfortable being the leading complaints. It can help to practice good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine and other stimulants before bed, setting a regular bedtime, and sleeping on a supportive mattress. Using a lightweight duvet is better than heavy blankets that can weigh you down and restrict movement during the night. Gentle stretching before bed can release stress and tension and calm your mind before sleeping. Inactivity can make joint stiffness worse, so taking gentle exercise in the day and stretching can help you to sleep better at night.