Diagnosing Ankylosing Spondylitis in Women

Ankylosing spondylitis has often been considered more of a man’s disease, yet the reality is that it affects some women, too.

The genetic marker for ankylosing spondylitis, HLA-B27, is found equally in men and women. However, ankylosing spondylitis is two or three times more common in men than women, said Rodney Tehrani, MD, a rheumatologist at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis in Women: Why the Difference?

Many experts believe several factors may explain why it’s harder to reach an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis in women. Some women may have milder symptoms, so ankylosing spondylitis symptoms may not be as obvious. Progression also may be slower, and symptoms can seem like other ailments, such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. The area of discomfort also can interfere with making the correct diagnosis. Along with back pain, women also might experience soreness in the neck and peripheral joints, in contrast to men who mainly tend to note back pain.

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