Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) (also known as Bechterew disease, Marie Strümpell disease, and bamboo spine) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by varying degrees of pain, stiffness, and disability. The term ankylosing is derived from the Greek word ankylos, meaning “joint stiffness,” while spondylitis refers to inflammation of the vertebrae. AS is the archetypical disorder of a group of conditions collectively termed spondyloarthritides, recognized by their predilection for the spine. AS is characterized by progressive ankylosis that usually begins in the sacroiliac joints and ascends the spine, oftentimes resulting in complete fusion of the spine, which resembles a bamboo. Extraspinal manifestations of AS exist as well and may include peripheral arthritis, enthesitis (inflammation where ligament and tendon attach to bone), and anterior uveitis.

Epidemiology, Etiology, and Pathophysiology

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