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Statement from Spondylitis Association of America

The Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) is encouraged by a successful clinical trial showing that the drug Enbrel (entanercept) provides relief for patients suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis. The University of California San Francisco announced the results of its clinical trial for Enbrel earlier today and the study results are published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

"We support all efforts to develop treatments for this disease, since spondylitis can dramatically affect peoples lives," says Jane Bruckel, RN, executive director of SAA. "We are encouraged when pharmaceutical companies invest the resources and time to find a treatment for spondylitis."

Ankylosing spondylitis, which is also known as AS, is an arthritis of the spine that typically strikes both men and women in their late teens and 20s. The SAA estimates that at least 300,000 and likely one million Americans suffer from the disease, making it more prevalent than multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrigs disease combined.

Unfortunately, many people with spondylitis go undiagnosed for years, and end up suffering long-term spinal damage. In severe cases, untreated spondylitis can lead to fusion of the spine and/or a significantly stooped posture.

There is no cure yet for spondylitis, but its effects can be successfully managed with medication and a daily program of stretching and strengthening. Currently, there are several drugs being used to relieve symptoms.

Early warning signs of spondylitis include:

  • Gradual onset of lower back pain before age 35
  • Early morning stiffness of the spine
  • Pain and stiffness worsen with immobility
  • Pain and stiffness improve with physical activity
  • Symptoms persist longer than three months.

"Early symptoms may differ between men and women," says Bruckel. "Some women feel pain and stiffness in their necks rather than their lower backs."

People wi
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Contact: Jane Bruckel
jbruckel@spondylitis.org
818-981-1616
The Spondylitis Association of America
1-May-2002


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