Arthritis Home > Diagnosing Ankylosing Spondylitis

Although there is no single test that can be used to make an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis, x-rays and certain blood tests may help rule out other conditions that could be causing symptoms. When considering this condition, a doctor usually begins by taking the person's medical history and performing a physical exam. Conditions that may need to be ruled out include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and osteoporosis.

How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosed?

There is no one specific test that can be used for diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis (also known simply as spondylitis). Therefore, in order to make a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will typically begin by asking a number of questions. This is known as taking a person's medical history. Some of these questions may be related to:
  • Current symptoms
  • Other medical conditions
  • Current medications
  • A recent history of injuries
  • A family history of any medical conditions, including arthritis.
After asking several questions, the healthcare provider will likely perform a physical exam, looking for ankylosing spondylitis symptoms or other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms. As part of this physical exam, the healthcare provider will usually examine the person's:
  • Joints
  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Reflexes
  • Muscle strength.
After the medical history and physical exam, the healthcare provider may recommend certain tests to help make an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis.

Tests Used for Diagnosing Ankylosing Spondylitis

Some of the tests that your healthcare provider may recommend to help diagnose ankylosing spondylitis include:
  • X-rays
  • Blood tests.
Doctors sometimes use x-rays to help diagnose this condition and to rule out other causes of arthritis. X-rays may show swelling of soft tissues and damage to cartilage or bone margins of the spine joints.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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