Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a specific type of arthritis causing inflammation in the joints between your spine and pelvis. It is possible for this type of arthritis to affect other areas of the spine or joints.  One isolated location could be the knee. Over time, the joints in your spine can fuse together, meaning they are unable to move independently. By definition, spondylitis means inflammation in the spine; ankylosing means fusing together or melding into one.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a relatively rare form of arthritis, effecting on 1 in 1,000 people. There is a possibility genetics are associated with the disease, but there is very little evidence to support that theory. More commonly, ankylosing spondylitis is found in younger men, who are generally healthy. The typical patient presents symptoms between the age of 20-40, but it is possible for children to be affected.

Symptoms of Ankylosing spondylitis

A patient’s presenting symptoms commonly begin with pain or stiffness in their lower back. They are often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity. These symptoms typically subside after periods of activity. Patients who suffer from this disorder will feel worse when they do not exercise.

When ankylosing spondylitis presents in the lower spine, but will continue movement up with the possibility of affecting the entire spine. There could be pain or tenderness in other joints such as hips, knees, thighs and ankles.  However, it is unlikely for more than three or four joints to be affected in the legs or arms.

As a patient’s symptoms progress up the spine, the patient may begin to stoop over. As the vertebrae begin to fuse together, it could cause a person to become extremely stiff and rigid, called a poker spine. With all of the rigidity, it is possible for it to become difficult to breath.

In very rare cases the inflammation could go to your lungs and cause shortness of breath.  It is also possible for the inflammation to present in your eyes and cause redness or reduce vision.

As with all forms of arthritis, there are other possible symptoms such as:

Loss of appetite
Weight Loss


Ankylosing spondylitis is typically diagnosed by a rheumatologist, since they have been specifically trained to diagnose and treat the disorder.  Typically, your doctor will do an exam, which includes X-rays, individual and family history, and blood tests.  Each one of these is a factor in determining your diagnosis.


With the help of living an active lifestyle and physiotherapy, you can help to reduce the pain caused by AS.

Types of phsiotherapy recommended by your rheumatologist

  1. Individual exercise program
  2. Group exercise
  3. Hydrotherapy
  4. Massage

Contact East Tennessee Arthritis

Arthritis Consultants of East Tennessee specializes in rheumatologic care, which is the practice of assessing joints, muscles, and bones for pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity. Contact us or call 865-503-2001 today to find out how we can help you get your life back on track.

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