This paper presents the results of a clinical study of 150 patients in Singapore with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and reviews recent developments locally with regards to the disease. The patients were predominantly males (ratio 7:l) and Chinese (n = 147). The onset of disease is usually in the early twenties and there was a mean delay of 6.3 years before diagnosis was made. Peripheral joint involvement is common but apart from uveitis (17%), extra-articular manifestations are rare. AS patients have abnormal lipid profiles and lower bone mineral density compared to healthy controls. HLA*B2704 is the predominant subtype in our Chinese patients whilst HLA*B2706 was found only in healthy controls. Intensive group physiotherapy is beneficial for patients with spondyloarthropathy.
Back pain is a common but often self-limiting problem. However, it is important to recognise causes of chronic backache such as ankylosing spondylitis which are potentially disabling but treatable.
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