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AS is tough todiagnose

Could your chronic back pain be from AS?

AS is hard to diagnose. There is no one definitive test that results in an AS diagnosis.

A thorough physical exam—including x-rays, individual medical history, and a family history of AS—as well as blood work (to test for a genetic marker called HLA-B27) are factors in diagnosing AS.

AS can be
You might want to find out if AS is in your family history. While having the HLA-B27 gene doesn’t necessarily mean an AS diagnosis, it can be an important clue.
The most qualified person to diagnose AS is a rheumatologist (roo-muh-tol-uh-jist). Rheumatologists are doctors who are specially trained to diagnose and treat inflammatory diseases like AS. Talk to your doctor to find out if you should see a rheumatologist.

2 types of back pain There are several types of back pain, but people often get AS confused with mechanical back pain. AS is an inflammatory back pain, caused by inflammation in the affected area.


Usually caused by physical strain to the back (eg, a sprain or muscle pull)

Mechanical Back Pain

Typically recognized by
pain that:

Lasts a few weeks
Feels better with


Caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissue, resulting in inflammation in the joints of the spine

Inflammatory Back Pain

Typically recognized by pain that:

Lasts longer than
3 months
Feels better with
Worsens and
spreads to other
areas of the body
over time

Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above. Only your doctor can diagnose the type of back pain you’re suffering from.

How to deal. Treatment options to consider if you’re diagnosed with AS.

Learn More
AS can be mistaken for
regular back pain
People with AS often think their back pain is “mechanical,” the kind caused by physical strain to the back. So if you’ve been blaming your back pain on your golf game, your high heels, or your bad posture, you’re not alone.

That’s why AS can take so long to diagnose.
It can take a very long time for people with AS to discover they’ve been painfully wrong about their back pain. The average AS patient goes undiagnosed for 7 to 12 years.