Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that affects the spine and peripheral joints. AS symptoms include pain and stiffness from the neck down to the lower back. The vertebrae may grow or fuse together, resulting in a rigid spine. Early diagnosis and treatment helps control pain and stiffness and may reduce or prevent deformity.

Symptoms are often less typical for women who have the HLA B-27 gene.  They may experience an unusual, chronic, recurring set of symptoms centered around swollen and painful joints in their hands, feet, shoulders, knees and hips with often minimal symptoms in their spines.  Because of this, women may go undiagnosed and under-treated for years before the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis is made.

Most importantly, due to inflammation, patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis are at a greater risk of cancer and heart disease, including heart attack.

Dr. Arnold uses innovative tools and tests to understand each patient’s disease progression and monitor response to treatments. These include:

  • A comprehensive interview with our staff including:
    • Joint counts;
    • MD-HAQ/Rapid 3/BASDAI questionnaires the best-validated ways to document symptoms and monitor response to therapy.
  • Sophisticated laboratory testing and imaging to diagnose, treat, monitor and predict arthritis symptoms including:
    • ESR/CRP or Vectra-DA: laboratory tests that measure inflammation created by the immune system and help assess disease activity.
    • Ultrasound Imaging – Xrays are not able to show synovial tissue which produces swelling, stiffness, pain and destruction in patients with inflammatory arthritis. Ultrasound is the ideal way to see this tissue, detect bone destruction and determine severity of inflammation.  It can also monitor response to therapy. In AS, ultrasound can also detect enthesitis (inflammation at the site of tendon insertion on bones).
    • MRI Imaging of the Spine and Sacroiliac Joints- Xrays are not able to show inflammation in the bone. MRI is the ideal way to show inflammation in the spine that occurs with AS.

For more information on AS, we recommend visiting The National Institutes of Health or contact us for an appointment.


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