Commonly referred to as arthritis of the spine or AS, ankylosing spondylitis is a painful disease that typically strikes people in their 20s. As the disease progresses, the spine can gradually fuse (become rigid), making it difficult or impossible to move the neck and spine. Two out of three survey respondents (66%) said AS has forced them into a forward-stooped posture and more than half (55%) said their spine has fused at least partially.
"I have had my hip replaced and my neck is almost completely fused, making it impossible to do many of the simple things most people take for granted such as pick up my daughter," said Tish Pollack, 42. "I worry that my daughter has inherited AS from me, and I hope more treatments and even a cure can be found within my lifetime."
Approximately 60 percent of respondents said having the disease limits their ability to walk, get into a car, sleep and/or have a satisfying sex life. One in four (25%) said they have been forced to change their job or career because of AS.
"For the almost one million people who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, it is a common, yet often unrecognized disease," said Jane Bruckel executive director and founder of the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA). "According to our survey, the majority of people didn't know what they had until they reached a specialist. Our survey also shows AS is dramatically affecting people's lives and clearly indicates much more needs to be done in the areas of diagnosis, treatment and research."
Other survey findings include the following: