Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that causes joint and ligament inflammation in the spine. Over time, AS may result in the fusion of bones in the spine. While no cure exists for AS, early detection may help slow down the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, medical professionals often misdiagnose AS, even in New Jersey.
Reasons for AS misdiagnosis
The average person with AS faces a delay in diagnosis that may last up to 5.3 years. This potential delay in diagnosis may qualify as medical malpractice. If you continually suffer from a condition and seek medical treatment, you may wonder why the doctor has difficulty diagnosing you. Physicians may encounter trouble in diagnosing you with AS for the following reasons:
- The condition develops slowly.
- Many other autoimmune conditions share symptoms with AS.
- No single diagnostic test exists for AS.
Back pain as a symptom
Most patients with AS first report severe back pain as a symptom. Doctors face difficulty basing a correct diagnosis on this symptom because almost 40% of all adults in the U.S. report some degree of back pain. Since most patients reach out to their primary care physicians, these generalist doctors may not have encountered AS before and may diagnose a more common cause of back pain.
Conditions often diagnosed instead of AS
Since so many symptoms of AS also occur in other conditions, doctors frequently provide a diagnosis of the wrong disease. Some of the most common types of situations that doctors may incorrectly diagnose you with include:
- Chronic lower back pain
- Reactive arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease with enteropathic arthritis
Every patient has the right to a correct and timely diagnosis. However, in the case of individuals with AS, medical providers may violate these rights through misdiagnosis.