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Here’s What To Know About Ankylosing Spondylitis Tests

Have you received a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis? Are you embarking on a Google frenzy to seek understanding of it?

The ankylosing spondylitis tests ordered by your doctor have left you more confused, especially about how they pinpointed the condition in the first place. 

After receiving a diagnosis of AS many years ago, I’ve been on a mission to educate women about this disease  So, there’s no need for you to look any further about the three types of ankylosing spondylitis blood tests. You’re covered.

Second, you’ll discover the various types of medication your rheumatologist may order to manage your symptoms. Last, you’ll also learn some helpful tips if you’re getting ready for your first visit with one.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms in Females

Women experiencing neck and upper back pain may suspect ankylosing spondylitis, especially with a family history. Symptoms can include:

  •  stiffness in the lower back
  •  fatigue
  •  discomfort in the hip joints

Ankylosing spondylitis often appears differently in women than in men, with them experiencing more joint pain in the hips, knees, and ankles along with less spinal fusion. But remember that the disease can manifest differently in each person.

Understanding the differences between men and women that have AS, can help with early detection and treatment of female patients. Also, awareness of these symptoms can empower you to seek timely medical advice.

Related Post: How to Use Your Human Design Body Graph To Combat Chronic Pain

Ankylosing Spondylitis Medication

There are several medication options to help you manage your symptoms. The goal is to slow down the disease so you can experience less pain and continue to work or take care of your kids. 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce pain and inflammation, providing short-term relief for many patients.

Some examples include:

1. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

2. Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)

3. Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin)

4. Celebrex

5. Voltaren

Related Post: The Beginner’s Guide to Chronic Pain Management Techniques

In more severe cases, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biologic medications may be prescribed to target inflammation and prevent joint damage. These medications help by calming down the immune system when it’s too active and causing inflammation.

A few examples of biologics include:

  • Cimzia
  • Humira
  • Enbrel
  • Remicade
  • Simponi

Physical therapy and exercise can also enhance the effectiveness of these medications by making your body more flexible and stronger, and by reducing pain and stiffness. Choosing to maintain a healthy weight, practicing sitting and standing up straight, and not smoking can make you feel better overall.

Related Post: Top 4 Foods To Fight Chronic Pain

Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis Criteria

Your doctor will most likely conduct all or a few of the following to determine a diagnosis:

  • assessing your symptoms
  • family history
  • a physical examination
  • imaging studies like X-rays or MRI scans

The presence of the HLA-B27 gene marker may also support the diagnosis, although not all patients with ankylosing spondylitis have this gene. Early diagnosis is crucial for initiating treatment and preventing long-term complications such as spinal fusion and disability

ankylosing spondylitis tests

Blood Tests Used to Diagnose Ankylosing Spondylitis

Your doctor will most likely order all of the following ankylosing spondylitis tests:

CSR-C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test: This test measures your inflammation levels. Elevated CRP levels may indicate active disease activity and can be used to monitor treatment response over time.

ESR-Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR Test): This test shows if your body has inflammation. When ESR levels are high, it means the disease might be more active, but it’s not specific and can be high for other reasons too.

One more pearl about the ESR: it goes up normally as we age and in women. Therefore I would not use the quoted common reference range of 0 to 10 or 15mm/hr. There is a rule of thumb you can use to approximate what is an acceptable ESR for age and gender. Age (+10 for a woman)/2. In other words, a 40 year old woman should not have an ESR > 25mm/hr.

Dr. Lianne Gensler

CBC-Complete Blood Count (CBC): A CBC test checks your overall health and can find issues like anemia, which happens when you don’t have enough red blood cells. It can also show if your white blood cell count is different, which may mean you have an infection or inflammation.

These blood tests, along with clinical assessment and imaging studies, help rheumatologists confirm ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis and monitor disease progression over time. But, it’s essential to interpret these tests in conjunction with other clinical findings to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Related Post: Ankylosing Spondylitis Biologics: A Quick Guide

Preparation Tips Before Meeting with a Rheumatologist

Document symptoms and their severity, including any factors that worsen or alleviate them. Keeping a symptom diary can provide valuable information for your rheumatologist.

Gather medical records including previous test results and X-rays, to provide a comprehensive overview of your health history.

Related Post: I Found a Rheumatologist Who Is A True Partner

Provide a detailed family history, noting any relatives with autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. Genetic factors can play a significant role in ankylosing spondylitis risk.

Prepare questions about the diagnosis, your treatment options, and your long-term management plan. Having a list of questions can ensure you get the information you need during your appointment.

Be ready to discuss lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress management, which can impact the severity of your symptoms. Your rheumatologist can provide personalized recommendations to help manage your condition effectively.

Final Thoughts

Understanding ankylosing spondylitis tests can provide you with clarity and empowerment in managing your condition. Your journey, from confusion to comprehension, underscores the importance of knowledge. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”

Was this post helpful? Share it to spread awareness! Thanks for reading.

FAQ

What can be mistaken for ankylosing spondylitis?

Conditions such as mechanical back pain, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease may mimic ankylosing spondylitis symptoms. However, a thorough evaluation by a rheumatologist can help differentiate between these conditions and establish an accurate diagnosis.

What are the 3 most common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis?

The most common symptoms include chronic back pain, morning stiffness, and reduced flexibility in the spine. These symptoms often develop gradually and worsen over time, leading to significant functional damage if left untreated.

What are the 4 body areas affected by ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine, sacroiliac joints, hips, and shoulders. Inflammation in these areas can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, impacting daily activities and overall quality of life.

What is the inflammatory marker for ankylosing spondylitis?

The inflammatory marker commonly associated with ankylosing spondylitis is C-reactive protein (CRP), which indicates inflammation in the body. Elevated CRP levels can suggest active disease activity and may be used to monitor treatment response over time. 

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