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Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms & Diagnosis


The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to very severe.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Stiffening and pain (arthritis) of the:
    • Lower back
    • Sacroiliac joint, where the back and hip meet, possibly radiating down the legs
  • Pain that is often worse at night
  • Stiffness that is worse in the morning
  • Symptom improvement with exercise or activity
  • Occasionally, pain and stiffness in other joints:
    • Knee
    • Upper back
    • Rib cage
    • Neck
    • Shoulders
    • Feet
  • Chest pain, which may suggest heart, heart valve (aortic insufficiency), or lung involvement
  • Eye pain, visual changes, increased tearing which may suggest eye involvement (uveitis)

Less common symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Fever
  • Numbness (if arthritic spurs compress the spinal nerves)


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Diagnosis is based on common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, such as:

  • Dramatic loss of flexibility of the lower back and spine (limitation of motion of the low back)
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Limited chest expansion when taking deep breaths

Tests may include:

  • X-rays of the lower back and hips to check for characteristic changes
  • Occasionally, MRI scan or CT scan of the involved joints
  • Blood tests to check for:
    • HLA-B27 gene marker
    • Anemia
    • Elevated sedimentation rate
    • Presence of other autoimmune markers

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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