SymptomsAnkylosing spondylitis is a condition that primarily affects the spine. It is a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis characterized by back pain and stiffness. These symptoms typically appear in adolescence or early adulthood. They do vary significantly from one person to another, and not everyone will experience serious symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis or have spinal fusion.
Ankylosing spondylitis can involve other joints as well, including the shoulders, hips, and, less often, joints in the limbs, including the ankle, elbow, knee, heel, or fingers.
Other parts of the body that may also be affected include the eyes, heart, lungs, and digestive tract.
(Click Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms for more information.)
DiagnosisIn order to make a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will typically begin by asking a number of questions. He or she will then likely perform a physical exam looking for signs of ankylosing spondylitis. If the healthcare provider suspects ankylosing spondylitis, he or she may recommend certain tests. These tests may include blood tests and x-rays.
Before making a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will make sure you do not have other conditions that share similar symptoms with ankylosing spondylitis. A few of these conditions include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Other causes of back pain (see Causes of Lower Back Pain).
(Click Diagnosing Ankylosing Spondylitis for more information.)