Ankylosing spondylitis is a condition the affects the lower back and hips.
The disease begins as inflammation in those areas. The body tries to deal with the inflammation by creating new bone. The bone grows until it fuses the vertebrae in the lower back together. The fused vertebrae cannot move, which means that you cannot bend and you feel pain whenever you try to use those vertebrae.
The disease can affect other parts of the body as well. The ribs can become inflamed and fuse together, constraining the lungs’ ability to fill with air. The eyes can become inflamed, causing eye pain, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. Sometimes the arteries can become inflamed enough to affect the heart.
Social Security considers this a disabling condition because of the way it affects most physical activities such as standing, walking, and lifting, all of which uses your back. Many physical labor jobs such as cashier, construction, and warehouse work require that you do one or more of these things. If you are over fifty, your work history is all physical labor, and your disabilities stop you from doing even moderate work, then Social Security will find your disabled because you are no longer able to do your past work or get training in another, less physical field.
This disease usually begins in early adolescence, around 23 years old. It is usually diagnosed through x-rays, MRIs, and CTs of the back. Your doctor may also want blood tests to check for signs of inflammation. So far no specific cause has been found for the disease, although genetics are believed to be a part of the cause.
There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment revolves around slowing the progression of the disease and learning to live with the pain and lack of mobility the conditions causes. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, or recommend physical therapy.