10 Surprising Ways Ankylosing Spondylitis Affects the Body

6. Swollen jaw

About 10 percent of people with AS have inflammation of the jaw. Jaw swelling and inflammation is known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Pain and swelling in your jaw can make it hard to eat.

7. Appetite loss

Appetite loss is one of the early symptoms of AS. It often goes along with general symptoms like fever, fatigue, and weight loss early in the disease.

8. Chest pain

Inflammation and scar tissue around the ribs can cause a tightness or pain in your chest. The pain may get worse when you cough or breathe in.

AS chest pain can feel like angina, which is when too little blood flow is getting to your heart. Because angina is an early warning sign of a heart attack, see a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing this symptom.

9. Bladder and bowel problems

Rarely, scars can form on the nerves at the base of your spine. This complication is called cauda equina syndrome (CES). Pressure on the nerves in your lower spine can make it hard to control urination or bowel movements.

10. Leg weakness and numbness

Weakness and numbness in your legs are other signs of CES. If you have these symptoms, see a neurologist for an exam.

Takeaway

The main symptoms of AS are pain and stiffness in your lower back, buttocks, and hips. Yet it is possible to have more unusual symptoms, including eye pain, a swollen jaw, and appetite loss.

No matter what symptoms you have, see a doctor for treatment. Drugs like NSAIDs and biologics help bring down inflammation and relieve symptoms. Depending on what problems you’re having, you may need to see a specialist for other types of treatment.

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