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Ask the Advocates: Receiving a Diagnosis

Ask the Advocates: Receiving a Diagnosis

When were you diagnosed with AS and how did it initially present itself?


Ankylosing Spondylitis Community Advocate Steff Di Pardo
I was diagnosed with AS in February of 2018. I initially had symptoms in February of 2017 and took a year to get diagnosed. I know that I am lucky that it only took a year and I don’t take that for granted. It originally started with a sharp pain in my right hip. I would limp around work at Panera until I physically couldn’t walk anymore and my GM told me to go get checked out by a doctor. I did the next day, and she sent me for lots of tests and referred me to neurosurgeons, neurologists, and rheumatologists. I got X-rays, an MRI, and finally saw a Rheumatologist that October who got me on the path of diagnosis. He got me to do blood work that came back as HLAB27 positive and ordered me a special MRI to see the inflammation in my body. Then when I saw him in February, he diagnosed me, and my whole journey began.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Community Advocate Jed Finley


I was diagnosed with AS in 1993 when I was 12 years old. I had been experiencing muscle pain a few months prior. That, of course, was attributed to “growing pains”, the catch-all pain diagnosis of the young. I also was a very active athlete competing in football, ice hockey, and baseball (although poorly). So, the fact I was in pain was not a surprise to my parents.

What did come as a surprise, was this sudden onset stiffness and cracking of joints that I began experiencing in the morning that would lighten or go away as the day went on. At the age of 12, one isn’t supposed to look and sound like a 60-year-old. The creaking and cracking became worse and began lasting longer as time went by. It wasn’t until after a vigorous game of one on one kickball and a trip to New York City that I suddenly became unable to walk due to a level of pain and weakness I had never experienced. My father needed to carry me from the train to the car and from the car into my house. The next day they took me to the doctor and shortly after I received my diagnosis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Community Advocate Brooke


Before I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I would experience excruciating pain in my buttocks, thighs and lower back. Often starting in the morning and the pain was hard to extinguish. The pain caused by my consistent ulcerative colitis flares masked the pain in my back, and I often forgot it was something separate from GI pain. Some days, it was all just one fog of pain and desperation.

In 2012, I had my colon removed. Although I wasn’t cured, I did find that most of my consistent, daily pain was gone. However, my back pain stayed with me. It progressively became worst. It began to impede on my parenting and the basic daily duties I needed to perform. Dressing, feeding and walking my little boy to school. There were days when it hurt so much just to put my feet to the floor and attempt to go to the restroom. I was in so much pain, I started to doubt the level of pain. I was sure that no human could ever or would ever feel as much pain as I was feeling.

It’s been a long and windy road with AS & IBD, but I am happy that science and research has evolved enough that therapy options are greater in number than ever before.

We want to hear from you, too! Share your responses in the comment section below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Azalea
    5 months ago

    I can barely walk many days. I have frequent butt pain. Nerve damage in both hands a legs. Doctors think all is from fibro, osteoarthritis. Rheumatologist in FL after many tests diagnosed me with AS. Then another said no. I have all the symptoms, so how do I know?

  • Anthony Carrone moderator author
    5 months ago

    @Azalea, So many others here have had a similar experience with being told different things from different docs. It is so confusing when this happens and I’m sorry you are going through it. It’s best to find a rheumatologist that has a lot of experience dealing with AS. Here’s an article about finding a good rheumy. You might find it helpful to ask this question in our Q&A section for others to share their thoughts and experience with you. Hope you can find some helpful information here. Please know I’m always here for you if you need! Sending my best, Anthony (Team member)

  • Erin King moderator
    5 months ago

    @azalea what led them to the yes diagnosis? Unfortunately I hear from so many people that a diagnosis takes years and is very hard to get. I think its super important to advocate for yourself, and find a doctor who you agree with and understand (whether it means agreeing you have AS or something else- they should be able to really explain to you!).

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