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Ankylosing Spondylitis


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Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints and ligaments along the spine. Over time, the spinal vertebrae (bones) can grow together, called fusion, and cause the spine to become inflexible. 

The most common early symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis are:

  • Back pain at night or early in the morning
  • Morning stiffness
  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back, hips, and buttocks that develops slowly, over weeks or months. It gets worse during periods of rest, but improves when you're active.

As the disease progresses, it can affect joints throughout your body — including shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles — and even the bones in your rib cage, which can make it difficult to breathe. In some instances, the disease can cause swelling in your eyes or in your aorta (the largest artery in your body).

You don’t have to live with back pain. Rheumatologists at University of Miami Health System can develop a customized treatment plan to help you stay active and move with ease. With locations  throughout South Florida, you can get expert care nearby.

Why Choose UHealth?

The latest treatments for ankylosing spondylitis. The same doctors who care for you are also leading arthritis researchers who are looking for better treatments. Your care team is on the leading edge of ankylosing spondylitis treatment.

Comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Our rheumatologists work with orthopedic specialists, physiatrists  (physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors), physical therapists, pain management specialists, and other health care professionals to develop a treatment plan that’s designed around your needs. You get personalized attention to help you move without pain.

A full spectrum of non-invasive and minimally invasive pain-management therapies. You can get the latest approaches to stop pain  — from acupuncture and biofeedback to ultrasound-guided injections, neurostimulation, radiofrequency ablation, and more. We draw from a full range of noninvasive and minimally invasive therapies to relieve back pain and stiffness.

Internationally recognized spine expertise in South Florida. University of Miami Health System is home to the renowned Spine Institute, which offers the most innovative approaches to diagnosing and treating back pain. Our rheumatologists work collaboratively with spine specialists, so you benefit from the combined experience of a highly skilled team of experts.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.


  • Lifestyle Guidance

    Your care team will educate you about lifestyle changes to manage your condition better, such as regular exercise, good posture, and quitting smoking if you're a smoker. Our occupational therapists  can introduce you to devices to help make everyday activities more comfortable, such as long-handled shoe horns, sock aids, and reachers/grabbers.

  • Immunosuppressive Medicines

    If possible, you should try to avoid the allergen that triggers your body’s immune system to react and causes the allergy symptoms

    • Corticosteroids: slow the body's immune response to relieve swelling and pain
    • Disease-modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): suppress the immune system broadly to prevent swelling
    • Genetically Engineered Biologics: a newer type of DMARD that targets specific immune functions

    Some of the medicines can be taken orally, but others are given as an injection. Doctors may use ultrasound-guided injections to deliver pain medication, which allows us to locate the area that’s causing pain and guide the injection of medicine directly to the source.

  • Neurostimulation

    Neurostimulation, also called electrical stimulation, uses a device that delivers mild electrical currents to block the nerve impulses that make you feel pain — it’s used in noninvasive and minimally invasive approaches:

    • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): uses electrodes placed on the surface of your skin to deliver electrical impulses.
    • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS): involves surgically implanting the device and electrodes under your skin.

  • Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy strengthens the muscles and ligaments along your spine and improves your range of motion. Physical therapists teach you stretches and exercises, and use ultrasound therapy (sound waves), hot or cold therapy, and other approaches to improve joint movement and relieve pain.

  • Surgery

    Most people with ankylosing spondylitis don't need surgery, but joint replacement surgery can offer relief for severe pain and spine inflexibility. Our orthopedic surgeons use the most advanced, least-invasive techniques to restore joint movement and eliminate pain.


  • Imaging Tests

    Your doctor may use X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis. It is only visible in more advanced stages of the disease.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.

  • Aetna WC
  • Aetna Affiliates/Signature Adm (ASA)
  • Aetna Behavioral Health
  • Aetna Elect Choice (EPO)
  • Aetna Florida Healthy Kids
  • Aetna HMO
  • Aetna Medicaid HMO
  • Aetna Medicare HMO
  • Aetna Medicare PPO
  • Aetna POS
  • Aetna PPO
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 1
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 2
  • Aetna UM Employee POS HRA
  • Aetna/Coventry Institutes of Excellence (IOE)
  • Amerigroup Florida Healthy Kids
  • Amerigroup Medicaid HMO
  • Argus Vision
  • AvMed Choice
  • AvMed HMO/POS
  • AvMed MDC and JHS Groups
  • AvMed Medicare HMO
  • AXIS
  • BCBS Blue Options Network Blue PPO
  • BCBS BlueCare HealthOptions HMO
  • BCBS BlueChoice PPC/PPO
  • BCBS Miami Dade Blue PPO Limited Benefits Plan
  • BCBS of Florida (All products except "SELECT" Plans)
  • BCBS of Florida (Commercial plans exclude HIX Select)
  • BCBS Traditional PHS/PPO
  • Beacon Health (ValueOption)
  • Beech Street PPO
  • Broward Health Medical Center
  • CarePlus Medicare HMO
  • Catholic Hospice
  • CCP/CMS Title XIX (Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/CMS Title XXI (Non Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/MMA (Broward County residents)
  • Charlotte County Sheriffs Office PPO
  • Cigna Affiliates
  • Cigna Behavioral Health
  • Cigna Dental HMO/PPO
  • Cigna EPO
  • Cigna HMO
  • Cigna Life Source (Intracorp is part of Cigna Lifesource)
  • Cigna MDCPS Jackson Sr. High
  • Cigna POS
  • Cigna PPO
  • Cigna Shared Administration
  • Clear Health Alliance SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Concordia Behavioral Health
  • CorVel WC
  • Coventry First Health WC
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) HMO/POS
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) PPO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) HMO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) POS
  • Coventry National PPO
  • Coventry Summit Medicare HMO
  • Coventry Vista Medicare HMO
  • Coventry First Health PPO
  • Delta Dental PPO
  • DentaQuest (ADI)
  • Dimension WC
  • Dimension Plus PPO
  • Doctor's Healthcare Plan
  • EQUIAN (Health Systems International)
  • Europe Assistance/Global Corporate Solutions (Care Management Network)
  • eyeQuest
  • Florida Community Care (FCC)
  • Florida Healthcare Plan (Affiliate of BCBSFL)
  • Florida PACE (FPC)
  • Freedom Health Medicaid HMO
  • Freedom Health Medicare HMO
  • Gallagher Bassett WC (MDCPS & FCSRMC)
  • Global Excel Mgt PPO
  • Great West (Cigna) HMO/POS
  • Guardian Life PPO
  • HAA Preferred Partners
  • Health First Health HMO/POS
  • Health First Health Medicare HMO
  • Health First Health PPO
  • Health Net Veterans Choice HMO
  • Heritage Summit Healthcare WC
  • Humana Behavioral Health (LifeSynch)
  • Humana Dental/CompBenefits/OHS
  • Humana EPO
  • Humana HMO
  • Humana Medicaid HMO
  • Humana Medicare HMO
  • Humana National Transplant
  • Humana PPO
  • Humana Premier
  • iCare Health Solutions
  • Interlink Health Services
  • International Kids Fund (IKF)
  • League Medical Concepts Federal Inmates
  • Life Trac
  • Magellan Behavioral Health
  • Magellan Complete Care SNP Medicaid HMO
  • MDAbroad
  • Medica Medicare HMO
  • Medical Development In't (MDI)-Federal Inmates
  • Medicus
  • Metlife Dental PPO
  • MHNet Behavioral Network (MHNet)
  • Molina
  • Molina Market Place
  • Molina Medicaid HMO
  • Molina Medicare HMO
  • Morgan White International
  • MultiPlan PPO
  • Naphcare (Federal Prisoners)
  • National Healthcare Solutions Inc.
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan HMO/POS
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan PPO
  • North Broward Hospital District PPO
  • Olympus Managed Healthcare
  • Optum
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicare HMO
  • Prestige Health Choice Medicaid HMO
  • Prime Health Services WC
  • Quality Health Management
  • Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses PPO
  • Rockport Healthcare Group WC
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises PPO
  • Sanus Health Corporation
  • Seasons Hospice
  • Simply Healthcare Medicaid HMO
  • Solstice Dental HMO/PPO
  • Start Healthcare Network
  • Sunshine
  • Sunshine AMBETTER
  • Sunshine Healthy Kids HMO
  • Sunshine Medicaid HMO
  • Sunshine Medicare HMO
  • Tricare South Prime HMO
  • Tricare South Standard PPO
  • United Behavioral Health (UBH)
  • UnitedHealthcare Affiliates
  • UnitedHealthcare Healthy Kids HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare HMO/POS
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicaid HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare Nursing Home Plan
  • UnitedHealthcare PPO
  • University of Miami Athletic Dept PPO
  • VUMI
  • Wellcare/Staywell Healthy Kids HMO
  • Wellcare/Staywell Medicaid HMO
  • Wexford Health State Inmates
  • Worldwide Managed Care