Axial spondyloarthritisis’ ‘Signs and symptoms’ mark World AS Day

Condition is believed to affect about 50 million people around the world

Mary Chapman avatar

by Mary Chapman |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Illustration of person with megaphone cone.

Organizers of this year’s World AS Day, seek to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), a disorder that’s thought to affect more than 50 million people globally. The day will be observed on Saturday, May 4.

The campaign is coordinated by the Axial Spondyloarthritis International Federation (ASIF) and its aim is to draw the attention of the general public, along with lawmakers, industry representatives, public authorities, and scientists.

“AxSpA affects millions of people around the world. World AS Day aims to raise the profile of this disease and increase awareness of the impact it has on people’s lives, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” the ASIF’s campaign webpage reads.

This year’s theme is “Signs and symptoms.” Despite its prevalence, most people have never heard of axSpA, a progressive, chronic, inflammatory, arthritic disorder that primarily affects joints in the spine and pelvis, often causing significant back pain and stiffness, the federation states. If joint damage is visible through X-rays, the condition is called ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Unlike other types of back pain, symptoms generally ease with movement and worsen with rest, and typically first manifest between ages 20 and 45.

“Focusing on signs and symptoms for World AS Day 2024 is crucial because early recognition and understanding of these indicators can significantly impact the lives of individuals affected,” the organization states. “Signs and symptoms of axSPA may be mistaken for other conditions, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. By emphasizing this theme, we aim to educate patients, the public and healthcare professionals about the key red flags associated with axSpA, such as persistent back pain, stiffness, and fatigue.”

Recommended Reading
An X-ray hangs on wall as a doctor speaks with a patient.

Axial Spondyloarthritis Not Tied to Higher Preeclampsia Risk: Study

Events, activities on World SA Day

For World AS Day, ASIF is offering flip cards about the disorder as well as its symptoms. “Have you had pain and stiffness in your lower back, buttocks, and hips for more than three months?” one card asks and links on its flip side to an axSpA symptom tracker in multiple languages. The organization is also providing healthcare professionals with information about the condition and its effects.

Planned events include the virtual 6th Annual Global Spondyloarthritis Summit on May 3-4. Hosted by the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) in partnership with the ASIF, the free educational event will feature experts in the spondyloarthritis community. Presentations will be in English and Spanish.

SAA is also inviting supporters to participate in “Walk Your AS Off,” an annual fundraiser that emphasizes movement in spondylitis, during May and beyond.

Other events include a May 4 Johannesburg Regional Get Together in South Africa, which will be presented by the Axial Spondyloarthritis Association of South Africa,.

Lastly, ASIF is also offering a downloadable logo, banners, social media resources, and a campaign toolkit that includes ways to participate in the yearly event. It’s also providing a downloadable sign to post on social media with the hashtag #WorldASDay2024.