Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds is a rock superstar, but behind the scenes, he's been struggling with a rare ailment. Dan suffers from ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a painful autoimmune disease.
A.S. produces painful inflammation throughout the body. It's often misdiagnosed because the main symptom is generalized pain, especially in the spine. “It's known as a hidden disease,” says Dan. Before his diagnosis, he was in so much pain he could barely move onstage.
Dan's brother Mac is the Imagine Dragons' manager, and also has AS, and so does one of his other brothers. Like many autoimmune diseases AS runs in families.
Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon explains that if AS. isn't treated in time, it can lead to spinal inflammation and fusing.
“If a celebrity has a story to share that can teach us something, that's always a good thing. There’s going to be people watching right now who have AS and don't even know it,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork tells Dan.
Dan wants to make AS less hidden – so he's hosting the TV show “This AS Life Live!” where he interviews other people with AS. He also cohosts a website, ThisASLife.com, created in partnership with Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Spondylitis Association of America. “It's a forum for people to go to talk about their management plans, what they're doing,” he explains. “When someone tells you you have a disease, it’s really overwhelming.”
There's no cure for AS, but it can be managed by a rheumatologist and patients can avoid permanent complications like spinal damage. Early diagnosis and treatment make all the difference.