20:15 PM

6 Diseases That Could Mimic Ankylosing Spondylitis — and Delay Your Diagnosis

CreakyJoints reports ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is tricky to diagnose, as other diseases present similarly.

CreakyJoints spoke to Susan M. Goodman, MD, rheumatologist at HSS, who explained there are two main factors that contribute to the difficulty of diagnosing AS. “The first is the prevalence of back pain. One estimate is that 90 percent of people see a doctor for low back pain some time during their life, so the index of suspicion when a young, active person complains of back pain is low,” said Dr. Goodman. The second, is a long lag between the time when symptoms appear and when tests would confirm a diagnosis or even suggest AS in X-rays, she added.

Dr. Goodman noted symptoms of AS such as inflammatory back pain, in which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints in the spine, differs from mechanical back pain, or aches caused by lifting something heavy. Inflammatory back pain improves with exercise and is worse with rest. With mechanical back pain, it’s the opposite: Rest makes it feel better and activity makes it worse, said Dr. Goodman.

Imaging studies are also a key factor in the diagnosis of AS. “If plain radiographs are normal, your doctor may order an MRI to look for inflammatory changes of the sacroiliac joints,” cited Dr. Goodman.

Read the article at Creakyjoints.org.