Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can be difficult to diagnose because the condition develops slowly and there's no definitive test.
The first thing you should do if you think you have AS is to see your GP. They'll ask about your symptoms, including:
Back pain associated withAS can bequite distinctive. For example, it usually doesn't improve with rest and may wake you up during the night.
If your GP suspects AS, they may arrange Blood tests to check for signs of inflammation in your body.Inflammation in your spine and joints is one of the main symptoms of the condition.
If yourresultssuggest you do have inflammation, you'll be referred to a rheumatologist for further tests. A rheumatologist is a specialist in conditions that affect muscles and joints.
Your rheumatologist will carry out imaging tests to examine the appearance of your spine and pelvis, as well as further blood tests.
These may include:
A genetic blood testmay sometimesbe carried out to see if you carry theHLA-B27 gene, which is found in most people with AS.
This can contribute towards a diagnosis of AS, but it's not entirely reliable as not everyone withthe conditionhas this gene and some people have the gene without ever developing AS.
Although scans can sometimes show spinal inflammation and fusing of the spine (ankylosis), damage to the spine can't always be picked up in the early stages of AS.
This is whydiagnosis is often difficult. In many cases confirming a diagnosis is a long process that can take years.
A diagnosis of AS canusuallybe confirmed if an X-ray shows inflammation of the sacroiliac joints (sacroiliitis) and you have at least one of the following:
If you have all three of these features but don't have sacroiliitisor if you only have sacroiliitisyou'll be diagnosed with probable ankylosing spondylitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a long-term (chronic) condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed. AS tends to first develop in teenagers and young adults. It's also around three times more common in men than in women.
The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can vary from person to person, but usually develop slowly over several months or years. The symptoms may come and go, and improve or get worse, over many years.
In ankylosing spondylitis (AS) several parts of the lower spine become inflamed, including the bones in the spine (vertebrae) and spinal joints.
Read about diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis (AS). AS can be difficult to diagnose because the condition develops slowly and there's no definitive test.
There's no cure for ankylosing spondylitis (AS), but treatment is available to help relieve the symptoms. Treatment can also help delay or prevent the process of the spine joining up (fusing) and stiffening .
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a complex condition that can affect many parts of your body. It can cause complications in your day-to-day life and lead to additional health conditions.