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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How is ankylosing spondylitis diagnosed?

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  • 1

    Thanks

    Dr Greg Sher

    Chiropractor

    I am the Clinic Director of the Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic.At our clinic, we see an equal mix of city office workers and elite … View Profile

    As with any spinal condition, a detailed health history is required. 
    Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) often has a genetic link, but a family history is not a prerequisite. 
    It often affects young males, with approximately a 75% (male) to 25% (female) distribution.
    Blood tests can show the presence HLA-B27, but not everybody with HLA-B27 contracts the disease.
    X-Rays also show specific things, so can be helpful in diagnosing AS, but the changes need to be advanced for them to show on X-Ray, so that can be a late diagnostic factor.
     
    There are many other signs and symptoms, but a skilled practitioner should have a high level of suspicion, and send for the appropriate investigation. Saying that, it can often take a long time to diagnose, as the disease may mimic many other conditions. 

  • 1

    Thanks

    Dr. Aaron Albrecht works at Body Wise Chiropractic in Bibra Lake, Western Australia. The clinic is located within a gym, and Dr. Albrecht is the … View Profile

    As Dr. Sher has mentioned above, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can be diagnosed using X-ray imaging to look for specific changes related to the condition. Also the HLA-B27 marker can be useful in confirming the presence of the condition.

    In order for a practitioner to have a high enough level of clinical suspicion to call for invasive tests such as these, some critical elements from a patients history must be present (i.e. correct patient demographics such as age and gender; morning stiffness with certain characteristics, etc.) and some non-ionvasive tests should be performed, these may include simple measurements of chest expansion with breathing, to orthopaedic tests such as Schober's test, in which movemet of the segments of the lumbar spine (the vertebrae in the low back) is measured through a patients range of motion.

    I hope this sheds some additional light on the matter.

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