Ankylosing Spondylitis and Bamboo Spine: Connection, Risk, Treatment

Ankylosing Spondylitis and Bamboo Spine: Connection, Risk, Treatment

ankylosing spondyloarthritis (AS) is a chronic form of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine, causing back pain and stiffness. In later stages of the disease, AS can cause the bones of the spine to fuse into one long, stiff bone. This is known as a “bamboo backbone”.

Read on to learn more about the connection between ankylosing spondylitis and bamboo spine, including risk factors and treatments.

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Connection between ankylosing spondylitis and the bamboo spine

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of autoimmune arthritis characterized by long-term inflammation of the spinal column and sacroiliac joints that connect the base of the spine to the pelvis. As the disease progresses, the inflammation can spread to other areas of the body, causing pain and stiffness in other joints, such as the neck, shoulders, ribs, hips, and heels.

Common AD symptoms include:

  • Back pain and stiffness
  • Slight fever
  • loss of appetite
  • General discomfort

In as advanced, Chronic inflammation can lead to the formation of new bone in the spine, called ankylosis. Ultimately, this can cause the spine vertebrae merge into a fixed and rigid position. AS-related bony fusion usually begins at the sacroiliac joints and progresses up the spine, from the lumbar spine (lower back) to the cervical spine (neck). This is known as a bamboo backbone because the backbone resembles a bamboo stalk on imaging scans.

Advanced ankylosing spondylitis and bamboo spine are also associated with the following:

  • Limited mobility and flexibility: The stiff, fused spine can make it difficult to participate in daily activities, such as putting on shoes.
  • kyphosis: This is a rounded upper back or hunched back posture.
  • Increased risk of fracture: People with a stiff spine have a 4 times higher risk of fractures.
  • cauda equina syndrome: This occurs when nerve roots in the lower back are compressed, reducing mobility and sensation in the lower body. Research suggests that bamboo spine may stiffen the outer layer of tissue that protects the spinal cord (dura mater), causing nerve root damage.
  • labored breathing: The joints between the ribs and the spine can become swollen and painful, which can restrict chest movement and make breathing difficult.


The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis is still not fully understood. About 90% of people with AS have the HLA-B27 gene, but many people with the gene do not develop the disease. This suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors increases the risk of AS.

AS is associated with chronic inflammation in the spine, which causes the spinal joints and surrounding soft tissues, including intervertebral discs, ligamentsY tendons—to calcify and harden over time. The bamboo column develops because of this. calcification.

Not everyone with AS will develop a bamboo backbone. getting diagnosed and following your treatment regimen can help control pain and inflammation to reduce the risk of bamboo spine.

Treatment and Management of Ankylosing Spondylitis with Bamboo Spine

There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but deals it can reduce symptoms and help slow the progression of the disease. Ankylosing spondylitis is most often treated with a combination of physical therapy and medication. Healthy lifestyle choices are also recommended, including a nutritious diet, exercisepracticing good postureand no smoking.

Medicines for ankylosing spondylitis they are designed to reduce pain and inflammation and reduce the risk of spinal fusion. Common AD medications include:

Surgery may be considered if the ankylosing spondylitis has progressed and the vertebrae in the spine have fused together. Surgery for people with AS is rare and is usually only recommended for people with severe pain and spinal deformity.

Surgical procedures to treat bamboo spine include:

  • osteotomy: This is a procedure to reduce spinal deformity and improve spinal stability and mobility. The surgeon will cut and realign the vertebrae of the spine during the procedure to correct deformities such as kyphosis.
  • Laminectomy: This is a decompression procedure that removes a portion of the spinal vertebrae (lamina) to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Spinal Fusion: This procedure is used to correct spinal deformity and provide stability to the spine. Rods and/or screws may be inserted to fuse the vertebrae of the spine into a better position.

The type of surgery your health care provider recommends will depend on your symptoms, the severity of your spinal deformity, and your overall health.


Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a progressive inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. Over time, long-term inflammation of the spine can cause the vertebrae to fuse together into a long, stiff bone that resembles a bamboo stalk. This is known as bamboo backbone.

Not everyone with AS will develop a bamboo backbone. Early diagnosis and proper treatment with medications, lifestyle changes, and regular exercise can help slow the progression of AD.

A word from Verywell

There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but early diagnosis and following the treatment regimen can reduce symptoms, slow disease progression, and help prevent bamboo thorn. Living with bamboo spine can certainly affect your daily life, but with the support of your loved ones and proper treatment, you can still enjoy a full life.

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