Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Although many people with ankylosing spondylitis have mild back pain that comes and goes, others develop severe, constant, debilitating pain that can cause the spine to become inflexible.

  • Early signs of ankylosing spondylitis include pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks, especially upon waking and after periods of inactivity. Sometimes the pain will disturb one from sleep. The pain begins as a gradual, dull pain that intensifies over time.
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Eye or bowel inflammation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss


The most severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis have symptoms that include:

  • Decreased range of motion, due to fusion of the bones
  • Calcification and fusion of the bones, including rib cage, that makes breathing difficult


Because the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are similar to other inflammatory diseases, it is important to be seen by a specialist in order to be properly diagnosed and treated (see Diagnosing and Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis). At the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, our specialists have advanced training in diagnosing and treating conditions of the spine.

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Reviewed by: Eric Elowitz, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: September 2020

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  • Hansen-MacDonald Professor of Neurological Surgery
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  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
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Weill Cornell Medicine Brain & Spine Center 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787