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What Is AS? Here's What a Musician Wants You to Know

Fame comes with great responsibility because a celebrity is able to influence others, and some, like Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, have decided to use their influence to raise awareness for important issues and causes, like mental health or health conditions.

Reynolds has focused his attention on raising awareness for Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a condition that he has been living with—according to Healthline, AS is “an autoimmune disease that is a type of arthritis of the spine.”

The musician shared his story in 2015, Everyday Health notes, when he told a crowd full of fans that he had previously kept his diagnosis to himself because he was “embarrassed,” but he changed his mind when he realized he could raise awareness for the condition. He also explained what it feels like to have AS, saying, “Basically your immune system thinks that your joints are a disease and so it attacks your joints and you get arthritis … You basically turn into an older person with arthritis at a young age and your joints can fuse together, and it’s a pretty scary thing …” He wanted others who suffer from AS to know that they are not alone, and he has continued to share this message by becoming the face of the more recent "Monster Pain in the AS" campaign.

Reynolds’ admission has helped to create awareness for AS, a condition that often shows signs in early adulthood (Reynolds was diagnosed in his early 20s) and affects more men than women, Mayo Clinic reports. There is no cure for AS, although treatments can help with the symptoms—NHS notes that treatment can include various exercises, physiotherapy, and medication for pain and inflammation. There is also no known cause, but Mayo Clinic does note that individuals who have a gene called HLA-B27 are at a greater risk.

Symptoms can vary, but Mayo Clinic notes that early symptoms include pain or stiffness in the lower back or hips, which tends to worsen in the mornings. The areas most commonly affected include hip and shoulder joints, the lower back vertebrae, the joint between the bottom of the spin and the pelvis, areas where tendons and ligaments attach to bones, and cartilage linking the breastbone and ribs. Symptoms tend to develop gradually, and it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional if these symptoms persist.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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