Could your unresolved back pain be inflammatory back pain?

Is your back feeling a bit stiff when you wake up in the morning? Does the stiffness linger a while? You may be experiencing inflammatory back pain – pain which worsens with little movement and improves with exercise 4,5. One possible cause could be ankylosing spondylitis.


Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a form of arthritis, is an inflammatory condition that causes pain and inflammation in the spine and pelvis. AS may also affect other organs in the body such as the eyes, gut and the joints in your hands and feet.1,2


Who does it affect?

AS may affect up to 1-2% of Australians3 and can affect up to 3 times more men than women.1


Early diagnosis is important 

  • Left undiagnosed and unmanaged, AS may lead to stiffening and changes in the spine.2
  • It’s important to figure out if chronic back pain is caused by AS, because it should be managed differently to other forms of back pain.8
  • Early diagnosis of AS is important, as appropriate management can help minimise long-term disability and improve quality of life.4-8


Look out for the signs:

Inflammatory back pain that someone has experienced for 3 months or more can be a sign of AS. To work out whether your back pain  could be caused by AS, you can complete a simple, five-question screener.1,4 Please note that this screener is a guide only, and further testing by a doctor is required to confirm your diagnosis.



Seeking Support

  • People who find their symptoms align to those of AS should first seek GP advice.  Your GP may do further testing and consider referral to a Rheumatologist, a doctor specialising in diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. 1,4,5,9,12
  • Exercise and appropriate medications (under the supervision of your healthcare professional) are standard therapies for AS or inflammatory back pain (IBP).4,5
  • In the care of a Rheumatologist, people living with AS can access further, disease-specific treatments and be assisted with ongoing management.4,6


Speak to your pharmacist or doctor for advice about your chronic back pain.

An initiative organised and funded by AbbVie.  AbbVie is a registered trademark of AbbVie Inc, ©2017 AbbVie Ltd.  ABN 48 156 384 262.  Mascot, NSW 2020.   AU-HUMS-0166   September 2017

References: 1. Rudalweit M & Sieper, J. Nat Rev Rheumatol 2012; 8:262-268. 2. Boonen A & van der Linded SM.  J Rheumatol Suppl 2006; 78: 4-11.  3. Empowered.  Ankylosing spondylitis, What is ankylosing spondylitis? Available at http:/ accessed 08/03/2017.  4. Sieper J et al.  Ann Rheum Dis 2002; 1: iii8-iii18.  5. Braun J et al.  Ann Rheum Dis 2011; 70: 896-904.  6. Rudalweit M et al.  Arthritis Rheum 2005; 52: 1000-1008.  7. Arthritis Australia.  Ankylosing spondylitis, What is AS? Available at accessed 20/5/2013.  8. Arthritis and Osteoporosis New South Wales.  Ankylosing spondylitis.  Available at May 2014.  9. Feldtkeller E et al.  Rheumatology Int 2003; 23:61-66.  10.  Salvadorini G et al.  Clin Exp Rheumatold 2012; 30:561-565.  11. Grigg SE et al.  Arth Rheum 2011; 63:S512 (Abs 1308).  12. Kain T et al.  Med J Australia 2008; 188: 235-237.  13. Rudalweit M et al.  Ann Rheum Dis 2004; 63:665-670.