Bone Loss Common in AS Patients

Osteoporosis among ankylosing spondylitis patients is common

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People with ankylosing spondylitis can develop weak and brittle bones, or osteoporosis. But it can be hard to spot osteoporosis in these patients because of certain traits of ankylosing spondylitis.

Researchers found that osteoporosis is common among people with ankylosing spondylitis.

They also found that side-view and 3D views of the spine were better at detecting osteoporosis than an anteroposterior (front-to-back) x-ray of the spine.

"Take care of your bones if you have ankylosing spondylitis."

According to Eva Klingberg, of the Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues, it can be difficult to diagnose osteoporosis in ankylosing spondylitis patients because of certain bone growths that are characteristic of ankylosing spondylitis.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a loss of bone density, making the bones weak and prone to breaking. Doctors diagnose osteoporosis by measuring bone mineral density. The bone growths, or syndesmophytes, can hamper doctors' ability to measure bone mineral density.

In their recent study, Klingberg and colleagues wanted to see how often ankylosing spondylitis patients suffer from osteoporosis, and how the painful spinal condition affects bone loss.

Their results show that osteoporosis and osteopenia (lower-than-normal bone density that is not low enough to qualify as osteoporosis) are common in people with ankylosing spondylitis. In addition, both osteoporosis and osteopenia are associated with a higher disease burden.

The researchers also found that lateral (side-view) and volumetric (3D-view) x-ray images detected more cases of bone loss than anteroposterior (front-to-back) x-ray images.

These findings suggest that doctors should be aware of osteoporosis in their patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Doctors should also take steps to reduce bone loss in people with ankylosing spondylitis, as these findings show that bone loss can make ankylosing spondylitis worse.

For their study, the researchers examined 87 women and 117 men with ankylosing spondylitis. Of those patients 50 years of age and older, 21 percent had osteoporosis and 44 percent had osteopenia. Only five percent of those under the age of 50 had bone loss.

The results of the study are published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 16, 2012
Last Updated:
July 30, 2012