Diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis is something that can be done, but not without careful examination and a battery of tests. In this article, we’ll give you an outline of what these tests are.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a rather painful ailment that affects the neck, spinal cord and posterior area of a person. Being quite similar to arthritis, it is characterized by the inability to move and make use of bones and joints, due to their locking up. This condition can be experienced in the back of the neck, the back, hips, and the sacroiliac joints.
Though it may seem a very open and shut case, actually diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis in a person is not really an easy task. This is because the symptoms that a person exhibits are more or less similar to symptoms of other ailments like arthritis. This HealthHearty article will shed light on the procedure that is followed by rheumatologists in effectively making an accurate diagnosis.
Tests for an Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis
This segment will give you information about what is the normal procedure that a rheumatologist (person who studies bones, joints and muscle) will follow to make sure that the patient is diagnosed accurately.
- The first step is obviously visiting the physician.
- When you do so, he will most likely first ask you a lot of questions to deduce whether you are a probable candidate for ankylosing spondylitis.
- These questions will mainly revolve around the symptoms that you experience.
- He may ask you to iterate the exact locations of your discomfort.
- Another factor that may be considered and inquired about is any family history of rheumatoid conditions like arthritis.
- Also, you will have to tell him if you have recently suffered any injuries that may have caused you to experience the symptoms.
- He will also ask you for names of any medications, along with the medical condition that you’re taking the medications for.
- After you have answered all the questions mentioned above, the physician will analyze them, and conduct a physical examination on you to locate the region of discomfort and also to infer whether it is indeed ankylosing spondylitis that you are suffering from.
- The physical examination will include checking for tenderness in the back and neck area.
- It will also involve checking your eyes for other inflammation related ailments like iritis or uveitis.
- A thorough examination of your pelvic, chest, sacroiliac joints, and heels will also be conducted.
- Routine questions during the physical exam include whether you feel better during physical activity, and sore when your body begins working after it has been at rest for an interval.
- During the physical examination, the doctor will ask you about the duration of your symptoms. If it has been more than 3 months that you have been experiencing the symptoms, then it becomes a chronic case and may lead to another test, to complete the verification process.
- X-rays are shot at the affected area to check for damage to the soft tissues, bone margins and cartilage.
- Plus, it will also help to confirm or rule out other conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis.
- If you fit the bill based on the physical exam and the X-rays, then the physician will order a number of blood tests to confirm what he suspects.
- The very first test that will be done will be to detect the presence of the HLA-B27 gene in the blood. It is this gene that is considered the primary accelerator of the inflammation that causes the discomfort to the bones and joints of the person.
- However, it cannot be concluded that the mere presence of this gene is the cause of the ailment. Hence, more blood tests are conducted to disqualify any other similar conditions that the person could be suffering from.
- A blood test to check the sedimentation rate (rate at which red blood cells reach the base of a test tube) may also be conducted to confirm the presence of inflammation in the blood. If the sedimentation rate is high, it is indicative of inflammation, and by extension, ankylosing spondylitis.
Thus, by conducting several blood tests to either negate or substantiate the presence of other probable conditions, ankylosing spondylitis is diagnosed or not. If you think you’ve been experiencing similar symptoms, then go and seek the advice of a professional at the earliest to avoid further complications.