In Spain there are some 400,000 affected by ankylosing spondylitis, the name by which a disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints is known. Sometimes, it also affects the peripheral joints causing arthritis.
The inflammation causes a dull and continuous pain, especially, in the lower area of the spine. It is very common to suffer from it in the middle of the night and wake up in the morning with a stiffness in the spine that It lasts more than 30 minutes.
“To diagnose it, information is collected about the symptoms, personal history of joint inflammation, presence of skin lesions or intestinal alterations, including family history of the disease,” explains Dr. Alejandro Escudero, head of the Rheumatology Service at the University Hospital. Reina Sofía (Córdoba).
After, a complete examination of the musculoskeletal system is performed, evaluating spinal mobility and possible joint anomalies. Later comes the turn of laboratory tests to detect inflammatory markers in the blood and imaging tests to look for deep inflammation in the sacroiliac joints. Finally, a genetic test is requested (HLA-B27) which is positive in more than 90% of cases, which helps confirm the diagnosis.
Despite this, diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis remains a challenge for rheumatologists, who They usually detect it in patients between 20 and 40 years of age. “In the case of a person under 45 years of age, with continuous low back pain (for more than three months), difficulties resting at night and limited mobility between at least 30 minutes and an hour when getting up, this disease should be considered,” explains Escudero.