Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis and Treatment Options

ankylosing spondylitis diagnosisLower back pain is becoming an increasingly common complaint and there is a wide range of potential causes. Occupational hazards such as sitting behind a steering wheel all day as is required of truck drivers;

or, having a physically demanding job that involves a lot of lifting, pulling or pushing can also be a cause. However, there is another condition that might be responsible for creating lower back pain symptoms, and that is spinal spondylosis of various types, with a common form being ankylosing spondylitis. By definition, this condition generally refers to long term or chronic inflammation of the spinal bone joints and in some people can also include joints existing between the pelvis and spine. Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms include discomfort in the lower back and even pain that can be severe, as well as fatigue, eye swelling, pain in the heels of the feet and a loss of appetite or weight loss. However, these symptoms alone are not enough to grant an ankylosis spondylitis diagnosis; and, since you can’t physically identify the symptoms of this condition, medical testing will be required in order to accurately be given an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis.

Blood work is a common diagnostic tool for just about every medical condition imaginable, and the same holds true with this condition as it can prove very useful as an instrument to help substantiate an ankylosising spondylitis diagnosis. Common blood tests include a CBC, which can provide a good picture of your overall general health; an ESR test, which is used to help identify inflammation within the body; an HLA-B27 Antigen blood test, which can be useful to identify a specific protein that can exist on the exterior of white blood cells (this protein is known as the human leukocyte antigen B27 and they are responsible for helping the body’s immune system identify a friend from foe. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to have an X-Ray done as a part of the ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis process, and in some cases, more advanced imaging may be required and an MRI of the spine may be necessary for an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis as well. Using these tools, health care providers can begin to identify the causes of lower back pain in the event that ankylosing spondylitis is suspected. Blood work and imaging offer valuable insight as to the amount of inflammation existing in the joints in between the spinal bones.

Once a diagnosis has been made, doctors can begin to implement ankylosing spondylitis treatment plans. These can include a wide range of methods with the most common being various types of medication, including corticosteroids. Other medicinal treatments include an ankylosing spondylitis injection of TNF-Inhibitors, which can also provide inflammation relief. Lifestyle changes involving stretching and exercise can also prove beneficial, however most often, a combination approach employing the use of multiple treatment options is necessary to provide the most relief possible and prevent future complications and a worsening of the condition which can lead unusual and rare complications such as lung tissue becoming thick or scarred, problems with heart valves or an abnormal heart rhythm.