What Is Ankylosis? - Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 What Is Ankylosis?
  • 1:25 Symptoms of Ankylosis
  • 2:08 Treatments for Ankylosis
  • 3:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Meghan Greenwood

Meghan has taught undergraduate and graduate level science courses and has a PhD in Immunology.

This lesson will define ankylosis and give two examples of diseases associated with this disorder. It will also describe the symptoms associated with this type of disease as well as the treatment options available. A short quiz follows the lesson.

What Is Ankylosis?

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man needs a heart. His pining over an inability to love turns out to be futile, as he always had the capability for such emotion. What the Tin Man actually needed was improved mobility! When first introduced, the Tin Man can't move his mouth let alone his appendages. But Dorothy uses an oil can to lubricate his joints, allowing him to walk down the yellow brick road.

As you watch this lesson, pick up something near you; then try picking it up without bending your elbow. Notice how much more difficult it is to pick up the object when you cannot bend your elbow joint? This example, and the stiffness of the Tin Man, offer a good way to understand ankylosis. Ankylosis is the term for fusion of the joints, which can occur in several different parts of the body, including the ankle, elbow, knee, shoulder, finger, or jawbone. The causes of ankylosis include genetics, injury, prolonged immobility, infection, and certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Ankylosis is often diagnosed as part of another disorder. For example, ankylosing spondylitis is a condition where the spinal vertebrae fuse together, creating a rigid spine and stooped posture. Another condition called temporomandibular joint ankylosis occurs when the jawbone becomes fixated, causing difficulty in chewing, swallowing, and talking.

Symptoms of Ankylosis

The most common symptoms of ankylosis are fused joint bones, joint immobility, and joint stiffness. Swelling, inflammation, and pain are other potential symptoms. However, since they are not specific to ankylosis, they will likely accompany the joint fusion or mobility dysfunction. Particularly in ankylosis spondylitis, the bones of the neck, back, and hips may fuse, limiting the ability to move normally. Ankylosis spondylitis, however, is more of a systemic disease, as it can cause several secondary complications throughout the body, including fevers, fatigue, eye inflammation, and heart and lung problems. In temporomandibular joint ankylosis, the jaw may start to click when opening and closing, and difficulty in chewing and talking will start to appear.

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