Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis Lab Tests and health information

What are the different types of ankylosing spondylitis tests used to screen, diagnose, and monitor the condition? 
The Ankylosing spondylitis tests can give you an accurate reading of your markers for inflammation, including Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. 

Order from Ulta Lab Tests and get your results sent confidentially online. 

In the guide below the list of tests, we explain and answer your questions on Ankylosing Spondylitis Tests.

Name Matches

Description: The HLA-B27 Antigen test is a blood test that tests for the presence of human leukocyte antigen B27 on the surface of a person’s white blood cells.

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Whole Blood

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is an HLA-B27 Antigen test ordered?

When a patient experiences acute or persistent pain and inflammation in the spinal vertebrae, chest, neck, eyes, and/or joints, and the doctor feels the cause is an autoimmune illness linked to the existence of HLA-B27, an HLA-B27 test may be prescribed. When someone has recurrent uveitis, an HLA-B27 test may also be required.

When doctors suspect ankylosing spondylitis however the disease is in its early stages and the vertebrae in the spine have not yet developed the distinctive alterations that would be visible on X-ray, they usually employ the HLA-B27 test result.

What does an HLA-B27 Antigen blood test check for?

On the surface of cells, there is a particular protein called HLA-B27. The gene that produces the HLA-B27 protein is sometimes referred to as HLA-B27. The HLA-B27 test examines whether a person's white blood cells have the HLA-B27 protein on their surface or not.

Human leukocyte antigens are proteins that assist the immune system of the body in recognizing and differentiating between "self" and "nonself" cells. The many antigens found on each person's cell surfaces are encoded by an inherited mix of HLA genes. Each person has a unique HLA combination depending on the presence or absence of each antigen.

Approximately 6% of Americans have the HLA-B27 gene. Autoimmune conditions such ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, and isolated acute anterior uveitis are more common in those with HLA-B27. Inflammatory bowel disease and a number of other chronic diseases have also been connected to HLA-B27.

Reactive arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are two chronic, progressive diseases that affect males more frequently than women. The early 30s are the normal age when the first symptoms appear. It can take years for the typical degenerative changes to bones and joints to become obvious on X-rays, and the initial symptoms of these autoimmune illnesses are frequently mild.

  • Pain, inflammation, and a progressively hardening of the spine, neck, and chest are the hallmarks of ankylosing spondylitis.
  • A collection of symptoms known as reactive arthritis include skin rashes, urethral, ocular, and joint inflammation.
  • A type of arthritis that affects children is called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Recurrent inflammation of the tissues in one or both eyes is a symptom of anterior uveitis.

There is a higher prevalence of the antigen in those who are affected, despite the fact that HLA-B27 has not been proven to be the cause of any of these ailments. For instance, 80–90% of persons with ankylosing spondylitis are HLA-B27 positive, despite the fact that only 6% of the general population carries this gene.

Lab tests often ordered with an HLA-B27 Antigen test:

  • Sed Rate
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • HLA Testing

Conditions where an HLA-B27 Antigen test is recommended:

  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Reactive Arthritis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

How does my health care provider use an HLA-B27 Antigen test?

The HLA-B27 test is typically requested to support or confirm a suspected diagnosis of reactive arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or occasionally anterior uveitis. The HLA-B27 test is non diagnostic, meaning that it cannot be used to provide a firm diagnosis or exclude a condition. The outcome provides additional information and is one piece of evidence that is utilized in conjunction with the assessment of signs, symptoms, and other laboratory tests to confirm or disprove the diagnosis of specific autoimmune illnesses, such as reactive arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

A series of tests, including the HLA-B27 test, may be requested to help identify and assess diseases that result in arthritis-like symptoms such chronic joint pain, feeling stiff, and inflammation. Rheumatoid factor testing using either an erythrocyte sedimentation rate or a C-reactive protein may be part of this set of tests. When evaluating a patient with recurrent uveitis that is not brought on by a known disease etiology, HLA-B27 may occasionally be requested.

What do my HLA-B27 test results mean?

A positive HLA-B27 test indicates that the subject is more likely to acquire specific autoimmune illnesses. Ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis, or another autoimmune illness linked to the presence of HLA-B27 may be diagnosed if the patient exhibits symptoms including chronic pain, inflammation, and/or degenerative changes to the bones. This is particularly true if the individual is young, male, and had his initial symptoms before to the age of 40.

A negative HLA-B27 test indicates that the marker was not found. However, as people without the HLA-B27 antigen can also develop various autoimmune disorders, this does not necessarily imply that the person who was tested does not have the suspected condition. The HLA-B27 antigen carries no guarantee that a person will experience any of these ailments. Researchers are attempting to identify the causes of these specific diseases as well as the variables that increase the risk of these diseases in people with HLA-B27.

Genetics determines whether or not specific HLA antigens will be present. The generation of those antigens is governed by genes that are passed down from parents to their offspring. Two HLA-B27 positive family members who experience the onset of one of the HLA-B27-related illnesses are more likely to experience the onset of the illness themselves.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

Clinical Significance

This test is used in the evaluation of genetic risk for Ankylosing Spondylitis, uveitis, and several other autoimmune disorders.

Result Name LOINC Code Component Name
86000639 HLA-B27 26043-0 HLA-B27

Description: A CBC or Complete Blood Count with Differential and Platelets test is a blood test that measures many important features of your blood’s red and white blood cells and platelets. A Complete Blood Count can be used to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide variety of conditions such as infection, anemia, and leukemia. It also looks at other important aspects of your blood health such as hemoglobin, which carries oxygen. 

Also Known As: CBC test, Complete Blood Count Test, Total Blood Count Test, CBC with Differential and Platelets test, Hemogram test  

Collection Method: Blood Draw 

Specimen Type: Whole Blood 

Test Preparation: No preparation required 

When is a Complete Blood Count test ordered?  

The complete blood count (CBC) is an extremely common test. When people go to the doctor for a standard checkup or blood work, they often get a CBC. Suppose a person is healthy and their results are within normal ranges. In that case, they may not need another CBC unless their health condition changes, or their healthcare professional believes it is necessary. 

When a person exhibits a variety of signs and symptoms that could be connected to blood cell abnormalities, a CBC may be done. A health practitioner may request a CBC to help diagnose and determine the severity of lethargy or weakness, as well as infection, inflammation, bruises, or bleeding. 

When a person is diagnosed with a disease that affects blood cells, a CBC is frequently done regularly to keep track of their progress. Similarly, if someone is being treated for a blood condition, a CBC may be performed on a regular basis to see if the treatment is working. 

Chemotherapy, for example, can influence the generation of cells in the bone marrow. Some drugs can lower WBC counts in the long run. To monitor various medication regimens, a CBC may be required on a regular basis. 

What does a Complete Blood Count test check for? 

The complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that determines the number of cells in circulation. White blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), and platelets (PLTs) are three types of cells suspended in a fluid called plasma. They are largely created and matured in the bone marrow and are released into the bloodstream when needed under normal circumstances. 

A CBC is mainly performed with an automated machine that measures a variety of factors, including the number of cells present in a person's blood sample. The findings of a CBC can reveal not only the quantity of different cell types but also the physical properties of some of the cells. 

Significant differences in one or more blood cell populations may suggest the presence of one or more diseases. Other tests are frequently performed to assist in determining the reason for aberrant results. This frequently necessitates visual confirmation via a microscope examination of a blood smear. A skilled laboratory technician can assess the appearance and physical features of blood cells, such as size, shape, and color, and note any anomalies. Any extra information is taken note of and communicated to the healthcare provider. This information provides the health care provider with further information about the cause of abnormal CBC results. 

The CBC focuses on three different types of cells: 

WBCs (White Blood Cells) 

The body uses five different types of WBCs, also known as leukocytes, to keep itself healthy and battle infections and other types of harm. The five different leukocytes are eosinophiles, lymphocytes, neutrophiles, basophils, and monocytes. They are found in relatively steady numbers in the blood. Depending on what is going on in the body, these values may momentarily rise or fall. An infection, for example, can cause the body to manufacture more neutrophils in order to combat bacterial infection. The amount of eosinophils in the body may increase as a result of allergies. A viral infection may cause an increase in lymphocyte production. Abnormal (immature or mature) white cells multiply fast in certain illness situations, such as leukemia, raising the WBC count. 

RBCs (Red Blood Cells) 

The bone marrow produces red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes, which are transferred into the bloodstream after maturing. Hemoglobin, a protein that distributes oxygen throughout the body, is found in these cells. Because RBCs have a 120-day lifespan, the bone marrow must constantly manufacture new RBCs to replace those that have aged and disintegrated or have been lost due to hemorrhage. A variety of diseases, including those that cause severe bleeding, can alter the creation of new RBCs and their longevity. 

The CBC measures the number of RBCs and hemoglobin in the blood, as well as the proportion of RBCs in the blood (hematocrit), and if the RBC population appears to be normal. RBCs are generally homogeneous in size and shape, with only minor differences; however, considerable variances can arise in illnesses including vitamin B12 and folate inadequacy, iron deficiency, and a range of other ailments. Anemia occurs when the concentration of red blood cells and/or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood falls below normal, resulting in symptoms such as weariness and weakness. In a far smaller percentage of cases, there may be an excess of RBCs in the blood (erythrocytosis or polycythemia). This might obstruct the flow of blood through the tiny veins and arteries in extreme circumstances. 


Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are small cell fragments that aid in the regular clotting of blood. A person with insufficient platelets is more likely to experience excessive bleeding and bruises. Excess platelets can induce excessive clotting or excessive bleeding if the platelets are not operating properly. The platelet count and size are determined by the CBC. 

Lab tests often ordered with a Complete Blood Count test: 

  • Reticulocytes
  • Iron and Total Iron Binding Capacity
  • Basic Metabolic Panel
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  • Lipid Panel
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate
  • Prothrombin with INR and Partial Thromboplastin Times
  • Sed Rate (ESR)
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Von Willebrand Factor Antigen

Conditions where a Complete Blood Count test is recommended: 

  • Anemia
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiency
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Heart Disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Leukemia
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Cancer
  • Bleeding Disorders
  • Inflammation
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Mononucleosis

Commonly Asked Questions: 

How does my health care provider use a Complete Blood Count test? 

The complete blood count (CBC) is a common, comprehensive screening test used to measure a person's overall health status.  

What do my Complete Blood Count results mean? 

A low Red Blood Cell Count, also known as anemia, could be due many different causes such as chronic bleeding, a bone marrow disorder, and nutritional deficiency just to name a few. A high Red Blood Cell Count, also known as polycythemia, could be due to several conditions including lung disease, dehydration, and smoking. Both Hemoglobin and Hematocrit tend to reflect Red Blood Cell Count results, so if your Red Blood Cell Count is low, your Hematocrit and Hemoglobin will likely also be low. Results should be discussed with your health care provider who can provide interpretation of your results and determine the appropriate next steps or lab tests to further investigate your health. 

What do my Differential results mean? 

A low White Blood Cell count or low WBC count, also known as leukopenia, could be due to a number of different disorders including autoimmune issues, severe infection, and lymphoma. A high White Blood Cell count, or high WBC count, also known as leukocytosis, can also be due to many different disorders including infection, leukemia, and inflammation. Abnormal levels in your White Blood Cell Count will be reflected in one or more of your different white blood cells. Knowing which white blood cell types are affected will help your healthcare provider narrow down the issue. Results should be discussed with your health care provider who can provide interpretation of your results and determine the appropriate next steps or lab tests to further investigate your health. 

What do my Platelet results mean? 

A low Platelet Count, also known as thrombocytopenia, could be due to a number of different disorders including autoimmune issues, viral infection, and leukemia. A high Platelet Count, also known as Thrombocytosis, can also be due to many different disorders including cancer, iron deficiency, and rheumatoid arthritis. Results should be discussed with your health care provider who can provide interpretation of your results and determine the appropriate next steps or lab tests to further investigate your health. 

NOTE: Only measurable biomarkers will be reported. Certain biomarkers do not appear in healthy individuals. 

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

Reflex Parameters for Manual Slide Review
  Less than  Greater Than 
WBC  1.5 x 10^3  30.0 x 10^3 
Hemoglobin  7.0 g/dL  19.0 g/dL 
Hematocrit  None  75%
Platelet  100 x 10^3  800 x 10^3 
MCV  70 fL  115 fL 
MCH  22 pg  37 pg 
MCHC  29 g/dL  36.5 g/dL 
RBC  None  8.00 x 10^6 
RDW  None  21.5
Relative Neutrophil %  1% or ABNC <500  None 
Relative Lymphocyte %  1% 70%
Relative Monocyte %  None  25%
Eosinophil  None  35%
Basophil  None  3.50%
Platelet  <75 with no flags,
>100 and <130 with platelet clump flag present,
Instrument Flags Variant lymphs, blasts,
immature neutrophils,  nRBC’s, abnormal platelets,
giant platelets, potential interference
The automated differential averages 6000+ cells. If none of the above parameters are met, the results are released without manual review.
CBC Reflex Pathway

Step 1 - The slide review is performed by qualified Laboratory staff and includes:

  • Confirmation of differential percentages
  • WBC and platelet estimates, when needed
  • Full review of RBC morphology
  • Comments for toxic changes, RBC inclusions, abnormal lymphs, and other
  • significant findings
  • If the differential percentages agree with the automated counts and no abnormal cells are seen, the automated differential is reported with appropriate comments

Step 2 - The slide review is performed by qualified Laboratory staff and includes: If any of the following are seen on the slide review, Laboratory staff will perform a manual differential:

  • Immature, abnormal, or toxic cells
  • nRBC’s
  • Disagreement with automated differential
  • Atypical/abnormal RBC morphology
  • Any RBC inclusions

Step 3 If any of the following are seen on the manual differential, a Pathologist will review the slide:

  • WBC<1,500 with abnormal cells noted
  • Blasts/immature cells, hairy cell lymphs, or megakaryocytes
  • New abnormal lymphocytes or monocytes
  • Variant or atypical lymphs >15%
  • Blood parasites
  • RBC morphology with 3+ spherocytes, RBC inclusions, suspect Hgb-C,
  • crystals, Pappenheimer bodies or bizarre morphology
  • nRBC’s

Description: The CRP test is used to identify and/or monitor inflammation in patients.

Also Known As: CRP Test, Inflammation test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a C-Reactive Protein test ordered?

When a person's medical history and signs and symptoms indicate that they may have a significant bacterial infection, a CRP test may be recommended. When a newborn displays signs of infection or when a person has sepsis symptoms including fever, chills, and rapid breathing and heart rate, it may be ordered.

It's also commonly requested on a regular basis to check illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and it's routinely repeated to see if medication is working. This is especially effective for inflammation issues because CRP levels decrease as inflammation decreases.

What does a C-Reactive Protein blood test check for?

C-reactive protein is a protein produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream within a few hours following tissue injury, infection, or other inflammatory event. After trauma or a heart attack, with active or uncontrolled autoimmune illnesses, and with acute bacterial infections like sepsis, markedly higher levels are reported. CRP levels can rise by a thousand-fold in response to inflammatory diseases, and their elevation in the blood can occur before pain, fever, or other clinical signs. The test detects inflammation caused by acute situations or monitors disease activity in chronic diseases by measuring the level of CRP in the blood.

The CRP test is not a diagnostic tool, although it can tell a doctor if inflammation is occurring. This information can be combined with other indicators like signs and symptoms, a physical exam, and other tests to establish whether someone has an acute inflammatory disorder or is having a flare-up of a chronic inflammatory disease. The health care provider may next do additional tests and treatment.

This CRP test should not be confused with the hs-CRP test. These are two separate CRP tests, each of which measures a different range of CRP levels in the blood for different purposes.

Lab tests often ordered with a C-Reactive Protein test:

  • Sed Rate (ESR)
  • Procalcitonin
  • ANA
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • Complement

Conditions where a C-Reactive Protein test is recommended:

  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Sepsis
  • Vasculitis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Meningitis and Encephalitis

Commonly Asked Questions:

How does my health care provider use a C-Reactive Protein test?

A health practitioner uses the C-reactive protein test to diagnose inflammation. CRP is an acute phase reactant, a protein produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream within a few hours following tissue injury, infection, or other inflammatory event. The CRP test is not a diagnostic test for any ailment, but it can be used in conjunction with other tests to determine whether a person has an acute or chronic inflammatory disorder.

CRP, for example, can be used to detect or track substantial inflammation in someone who is suspected of having an acute ailment like:

  • Sepsis is a dangerous bacterial infection.
  • An infection caused by a fungus
  • Inflammation of the pelvis

People with chronic inflammatory diseases can use the CRP test to detect flare-ups and/or see if their medication is working. Here are a few examples:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Arthritis, which can take many forms.
  • Autoimmune disorders, examples include lupus and vasculitis

CRP is occasionally requested in conjunction with an erythrocyte sedimentation rate, another inflammatory test. While the CRP test is not specific enough to diagnose an illness, it does serve as a broad marker for infection and inflammation, alerting doctors to the need for more testing and treatment. A variety of additional tests may be used to determine the source of inflammation, depending on the probable cause.

What do my C-Reactive Protein test results mean?

CRP levels in the blood are usually low.

CRP levels in the blood that are high or rising indicate the existence of inflammation, but they don't tell you where it is or what's causing it. A high CRP level can establish the presence of a severe bacterial infection in people who are suspected of having one. High levels of CRP in persons with chronic inflammatory disorders indicate a flare-up or that treatment isn't working.

When the CRP level rises and then falls, it indicates that the inflammation or infection is diminishing and/or responding to treatment.

Is there anything else I should know about C-Reactive Protein?

CRP levels can rise during pregnancy, as well as with the use of birth control tablets or hormone replacement therapy. Obese people have also been found to have higher CRP levels.

In the presence of inflammation, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate test will also rise; however, CRP rises first and then falls faster than the ESR.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

Description: Sed Rate is a blood test that is used to measure the rate that red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube. The measurement is based how many cells fall within one hour. This test can be used to determine infection or inflammation.

Also Known As: Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test, ESR Test, Sed Rate Test, Sedimentation Rate Test, Westergren Sedimentation Rate Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Whole Blood

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Sed Rate test ordered?

When a condition or disease is believed to be causing inflammation in the body, an ESR may be ordered. Several inflammatory illnesses can be identified using this test. It may be requested, for example, if arthritis is suspected of producing joint inflammation and pain, or if inflammatory bowel disease is suspected of causing digestive symptoms.

When a person develops symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica, systemic vasculitis, or temporal arteritis, such as headaches, neck or shoulder discomfort, anemia, pelvic pain, poor appetite, joint stiffness, and unexplained weight loss, a doctor may recommend an ESR. To follow the development of specific illnesses, the sed rate test can also be routinely ordered.

A health practitioner may wish to repeat the ESR before undertaking a full workup to look for disease.

What does a Sed Rate blood test check for?

The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is a test that evaluates the degree of inflammation in the body indirectly. The test evaluates the rate at which erythrocytes fall in a blood sample that has been placed in a tall, thin, vertical tube. The millimeters of clear fluid present at the upper portion of the tube after one hour are reported as the results.

When a drop of blood is inserted in a tube, the red blood cells settle out slowly, leaving just a small amount of transparent plasma. In the presence of an increased number of proteins, particularly proteins known as acute phase reactants, red cells settle at a faster pace. Inflammation raises the levels of acute phase reactants such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen in the blood.

An inherent component of the immune system's response is inflammation. It could be chronic, showing symptoms over time with conditions like autoimmune illnesses or cancer, or acute, showing symptoms right away after a shock, injury, or infection.

The ESR is a non-specific indication that can rise in a number of disorders; it is not a diagnostic test. It provides you with a fundamental understanding of whether you have an inflammatory condition or not.

Given the availability of more recent, specialized tests, there have been reservations about the ESR's utility. The ESR test, on the other hand, is commonly used to diagnose and monitor temporal arteritis, systemic vasculitis, and polymyalgia rheumatica. Extremely high ESR values can aid in differentiating between rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, ESR may still be a viable alternative in some cases, such as when newer tests are unavailable in resource-constrained places or while monitoring the progression of a disease.

Lab tests often ordered with a Sed Rate test:

  • C-Reactive Protein
  • ANA
  • Rheumatoid Factor

Conditions where a Sed Rate test is recommended:

  • Vasculitis
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Celiac Disease
  • Lupus
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

How does my health care provider use a Sed Rate test?

The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is a non-specific, very straightforward test that has been used for many years to detect inflammation associated with infections, malignancies, and autoimmune illnesses.

Because an elevated ESR often indicates the presence of inflammation, but does not tell the health practitioner where the inflammation is in the body or what is causing it, it is referred to as a non-specific test. Other illnesses besides inflammation may have an impact on an ESR. As a result, other tests, such C-reactive protein, are routinely paired with the ESR.

ESR is used to identify temporal arteritis, systemic vasculitis, and polymyalgia rheumatica, among other inflammatory illnesses. A notably elevated ESR is one of the crucial test results used to support the diagnosis.

This test can be used to track disease activity and treatment response in both of the disorders mentioned above, as well as several others including systemic lupus erythematosus.

What do my Sed Rate test results mean?

Because ESR is a non-specific inflammatory measure that is influenced by a variety of circumstances, it must be used in conjunction with other clinical findings, the individual's medical history, and the results of other laboratory tests. The health practitioner may be able to confirm or rule out a suspected illness if the ESR and clinical data match.

Without any signs of a specific condition, a single elevated ESR is usually insufficient to make a medical conclusion. A normal result does not, however, rule out inflammation or illness.

Inflammation, as well as anemia, infection, pregnancy, and aging, can cause a moderately raised ESR.

A severe infection with a rise in globulins, polymyalgia rheumatica, or temporal arteritis are common causes of an extremely high ESR. Depending on the person's symptoms, a health practitioner may employ various follow-up tests, such as blood cultures. Even if there is no inflammation, people with multiple myeloma or Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia have extraordinarily high ESRs.

Rising ESRs may suggest increased inflammation or a poor response to therapy when monitoring a condition over time; normal or falling ESRs may indicate an adequate response to treatment.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

Ankylosing Spondylitis affects approximately 0.2-0.5% of the population in the US. There is a prevalence of Ankylosing Spondylitis in patients who are positive for the HLA-B27 gene. 

The precise cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis is currently unknown. There are ongoing advancements in research, as well as Ankylosing Spondylitis tests. This helps to better understand this inflammatory disease and treatments.

Read on to learn more about Ankylosing Spondylitis and the effects it has on the body.

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a long-term, chronic condition. It causes inflammation in the spine and other parts of the body.

Over time, the inflammation can cause new bone to form. This can lead to the small bones in your spine fusing, causing pain, stiffness, and hunching.

Symptoms can start in teenagers and early adults. This inflammatory disease is more common in men than women. 

Types of Ankylosing Spondylitis

There are 7 different types of Ankylosing Spondylitis:

Enteropathic Arthritis (EnA)

Along with the typical symptoms, this also includes inflammatory bowel disease. The typical diseases are Crohn's, undifferentiated colitis, and ulcerative colitis.

There are other symptoms included. Such as abdominal pain, weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and/or blood in the stool. 

Juvenile Spondyloarthritis (JSpA)

This is when the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis begin in childhood. They may also look to the other types of Ankylosing Spondylitis for diagnosis. 

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Causes frequent pain and swelling in the smaller joints of the hands and feet. Most will also have a psoriasis rash and swelling in the digits. 

Reactive Arthritis (ReA)

You will start with infections in the intestines and urinary tract. Then the inflammation will start to dominate. Inflammation can occur in the mucus membranes, bladder, skin, eyes, joints, and genitals.

This can cause recurrent symptoms and subsides in 3-12 months. This tends to recur over time, and most patients will develop chronic forms of arthritis over time.

Undifferentiated Spondyloarthritis (USpA)

USpA doesn't fit within the other categories above.

They may have heel pain, knee swelling, and iritis. There is a lack of back pain, infections, intestinal symptoms, and psoriasis. 

Axial Spondyloarthritis (AxSpA)

One of the two newer forms of Ankylosing Spondylitis. It causes inflammation in the hips and/or spine, causing inflammatory back pain.

Peripheral Spondyloarthritis (pSpA)

This form causes inflammation across joints and tendons outside of the spine and sacroiliac joints.

Affected areas include the shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, wrists, hands, and elbows. This can also cause inflammation of the tendons and ligaments, especially in the bones, fingers, and toes.

Almost everyone that has Psoriatic Arthritis will have this category of disease. Patients with the other categories may fit into this category also.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

The most common symptoms which are not categorized as above are:

Back Pain and Stiffness

The back pain and stiffness can feel worse in the early hours of the morning. Symptoms may improve with warmth or gentle exercise and movement.

You may find you are waking in the early hours in a lot of pain and unable to get back to sleep.

Early Stage Symptoms

In the very early stages, some have a mild fever, loss of appetite, and discomfort. 

You may find symptoms started around your teenage years or early 20s. 


Inflammation can be in the spine and pelvis, also other areas such as joints. 

Areas that can have inflammation are the shoulders, heels, hips, and ribs. You may find there is inflammation in the small joints of the hands and feet.

Pain and Discomfort

As there are areas of inflammation in the body, this can also cause pain.

Swelling and heat from the areas may happen, especially in the smaller joints such as fingers.

The pain is more common in the early hours of the morning. Or after a period of time staying still.

Spinal Fusion

Over time, the spine may start to fuse together, giving a hunch-back appearance. You may need surgery long-term.


A visit with a Rheumatologist is the first step in your diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

A physical exam will take place, including imaging tests, MRI, and x-ray scans.

You will also have blood tests performed that are likely to include a test for the HLA-B27 antigen, a test for rheumatoid arthritis, and the following inflammation markers:

1. - Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also known as Sed Rate by Modified Westergren (ESR)
2. - C-reactive protein (CRP)
3. - Plasma viscosity (PV)

Your healthcare professional will also check your medical history to understand when the pain and problems started. Blood tests in addition to those noted above may be ordered to understand what is causing the inflammation and identify other conditions such as anemia that may exacerbate arthritis.

A few diagnostic criteria that your healthcare professional will consider along with your lab tests; may vary based on where you live.

  • The onset of pain before 45 years of age
  • Chronic and persistent pain (lasting more than 3 months)
  • Back pain and stiffness, which is worse in the early morning
  • Pain and stiffness easing with movement and exercise
  • Fatigue as well as the presence of inflammation

Other symptoms, such as inflammation elsewhere in the body—particularly the eye and digestive tract will be evaluated.

Available Ankylosing Spondylitis Tests

You can order blood tests directly through Ulta Lab Tests to check for Ankylosing Spondylitis. Your tests results are returned quickly in 1 to 2 days for most tests.

The Ankylosing Spondylitis tests most often recommended include the HLA-B27 Antigen TestC-reactive proteinCBC, and an ESR blood test.

The HLA-B27 Antigen Test measures the presence of HLA-B27. Ankylosing spondylitis is ten times more common among individuals with HLA-B27 than individuals without this antigen, and HLA-B27 is found in 90% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

The C-reactive protein (CRP) and Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) blood tests measure the level of inflammation in your body. While a Complete Blood Count (CBC) is ordered to help rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.

The HLA-B27 DNA Typing test is available to evaluate the genetic risk for Ankylosing Spondylitis, uveitis, and several other autoimmune disorders.

Treating and Managing Ankylosing Spondylitis

From medication to lifestyle changes, there are ways you can manage Ankylosing Spondylitis. Once you have your test results, you can look to managing your condition.

Medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are conventional medications along with DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). Painkillers can be prescribed to manage pain.

Physical therapy can help you manage the pain and ease the stiffness. Exercise is also another way to relieve the pain and keep your spine mobile.

Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and avoiding inflammatory foods. 

Keeping an eye on your inflammation levels is a good way to monitor how your body reacts to the new medications. Blood tests ordered from Ulta Lab Tests are a good way to keep on track without the long waiting periods.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are three frequently asked questions about the condition.

Are There Certain Exercises I Should Do?

There are some specific exercises that can help with movement and pain. A physiotherapist will be able to offer advice on the best options for you.

Do I Need to Follow a Special Diet?

There is no specific diet, but having a healthy diet will benefit you long term. It is suggested to avoid nightshades which are inflammatory foods.

Am I Able to Consider Complementary Therapies?

Before you agree to any complementary therapies, seek advice from your specialist. There are complementary therapies such as chiropractic treatment and acupuncture to consider.

Should I Get a Blood Test?

Blood tests are a quick and reliable way to find the answers you need to identify the cause and monitor inflammation's impact on your organs.

You can order the blood tests you are looking for at a low price with Ulta Lab Tests. Our tests are organized by condition so that you can quickly select and order your tests. You can quickly have your specimen collected and receive your results in 24-48 hours for most tests with a local lab.

Testing with Ulta Lab Tests is fast, reliable, and you're able to request any blood test you need, including Ankylosing Spondylitis tests.

If you suspect you have Ankylosing Spondylitis, find peace of mind by testing for Ankylosing Spondylitis with Ulta Lab Tests. There's no need to wait weeks for an appointment at your doctor's office, go back and forth from the doctor to the lab, or worry about scheduling a second appointment to get your test results.

Ulta Lab Tests make it easy to get blood tests. Order the lab tests needed to help diagnose Ankylosing Spondylitis and to monitor your condition.

You order your tests, and we will do the rest.