Ankylosing Spondylitis and Vertigo: What Is the Relationship?

One of the Less Well-Recognized Effects

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. The most common symptoms of inflammation affect the joints and typically involve pain, stiffness, and swelling. Some people with ankylosing spondylitis develop digestive problems, a rash, or eye inflammation.

While vertigo (a dizzy, spinning sensation) is not the most well-recognized effect of ankylosing spondylitis, people with ankylosing spondylitis have a higher than usual risk of experiencing vertigo, especially as the condition progresses over time.

This article explains the relationship between vertigo and ankylosing spondylitis, how you can try to prevent it, and what treatments might help if you have vertigo or any balance problems with ankylosing spondylitis. 

Person with ankylosing spondylitis on couch feeling sensation of vertigo

vitapix / Getty Images

Connection Between Ankylosing Spondylitis and Vertigo 

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the joints. It can also cause vertigo, dizziness, problems with balance, and trouble waking.

People with this condition can have diminished core stability, which means that the body as a whole is less stable than normal, making it difficult to maintain balance.

The severity of these problems varies among people with ankylosing spondylitis. Each type of physical instability or sense of imbalance can amplify the effects of the others, leading to further impairment of balance and worsening feelings of dizziness. 


In general, the different aspects of diminished balance that can develop with ankylosing spondylitis are caused by inflammation in various areas of the body. People who have ankylosing spondylitis are at risk of having poor balance and posture, both at rest and during activity.

One study found that balance was impaired with both forward and backward movements and side-to-side movements.

There are several contributing factors that can lead to vertigo, dizziness, and diminished core stability in ankylosing spondylitis.

Inner Ear Inflammation

Ankylosing spondylitis can lead to inflammation in the inner ear. Researchers used vestibular testing to determine how participants with ankylosing spondylitis scored. These are tests used to assess the inner ear function of balance.

In the study, people with ankylosing spondylitis were found to have lower than normal vestibular system functioning. This is known to cause vertigo, dizziness, and trouble with balance. 

Joint Inflammation

Gait, which describes a person’s form, balance, and strength while walking, is also affected by ankylosing spondylitis. This is thought to result from joint inflammation, stiffness, and deformity.

Gait can also be impaired by vertigo and dizziness, and problems with gait can worsen dizziness. 

Treatment and Management of Vertigo With Ankylosing Spondylitis 

Treatments can reduce your feelings of vertigo and dizziness and improve your balance. 

Physical therapy is a key treatment for vertigo. This involves balance exercises, gait training, and exercises specifically designed to reduce vertigo. You can work with a physical therapist and, under their direction, practice the exercises at home on your own. 


Ankylosing spondylitis can be managed with medication to help reduce inflammation and prevent the progression of joint stiffness and malformation. Treatment can potentially prevent vertigo by reducing inflammation in the inner ear and preventing the balance issues that are caused by joint involvement. 

Research suggests that people with ankylosing spondylitis be tested for balance and core stability and that exercises to improve these skills should be a standard part of physical therapy and rehabilitation for ankylosing spondylitis.


Several risk factors can make you prone to vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems if you have ankylosing spondylitis. The joint inflammation, stiffness, and potential deformity caused by this condition can impair gait, which can interfere with your balance and cause a feeling of vertigo and dizziness.

Additionally, inflammation of the inner ear can lead to vertigo, balance problems, and dizziness. Screening for these issues can identify them early so treatment can be started. Prevention includes using medication to control ankylosing spondylitis and participating in physical therapy. 

A Word From Verywell 

You can have a good quality of life with ankylosing spondylitis. Medication, physical therapy, and staying active can all help maintain your ability to function and can reduce the pain or discomfort that this type of inflammatory arthritis can cause. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can the medication used to treat ankylosing spondylitis cause vertigo?

    One of the treatments used for ankylosing spondylitis, Remicade (infliximab), is in a category of medications associated with impairment of inner ear function.

    A small research study included people with ankylosing spondylitis who were treated with infliximab, though, and found no evidence of damage to their inner ear function.

  •  What are the common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?

    The most common symptoms are pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints throughout the body. Some people may also have a rash, digestive problems, or inflammation of the eyes.

    Vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems are also increased in people with ankylosing spondylitis when compared to people who don’t have the condition.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Acar Y, Ilçin N, Gürpinar B, Can G. Core stability and balance in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Rheumatol Int. 2019;39(8):1389-1396. doi:10.1007/s00296-019-04341-5

  2. Soulard J, Vuillerme N, Vaillant J. Gait characteristics in patients with ankylosing spondylitis: protocol for a systematic review. JMIR Res Protoc. 2019;8(5):e12470. doi:10.2196/12470

  3. Çınar E, Akkoç Y, Karapolat H, Durusoy R, Keser G. Postural deformities: potential morbidities to cause balance problems in patients with ankylosing spondylitis? Eur J Rheumatol. 2016;3(1):5-9. doi:10.5152/eurjrheum.2015.15104

  4. Özgür A, Serdaroğlu Beyazal M, Terzi S, Coşkun ZÖ, Dursun E. Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2016;273(10):2953-7. doi:10.1007/s00405-015-3882-4

  5. Toktas H, Okur E, Dundar U, Dikici A, Kahveci OK. Infliximab has no apparent effect in the inner ear hearing function of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Clin Rheumatol. 2014;33(10):1481-7. doi:10.1007/s10067-014-2625-z

By Heidi Moawad, MD
Heidi Moawad is a neurologist and expert in the field of brain health and neurological disorders. Dr. Moawad regularly writes and edits health and career content for medical books and publications.