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What Are Rheumatic Diseases?

Ankylosing Spondylitis

What it is: Ankylosing spondylitis usually starts gradually as lower back pain. It usually involves the joints where the spine attaches to the pelvis, known as the sacroiliac joints.

Ankylosing spondylitis is more common in young men, especially from the teenage years to age 30.


  • Gradual pain in the lower back and buttocks
  • Lower back pain that worsens and works its way up the spine
  • Pain felt between the shoulder blades and in the neck
  • Pain and stiffness in the back, especially at rest and when getting up
  • Pain and stiffness get better after activity
  • Pain in the middle back and then upper back and neck (after 5-10 years)

If the condition worsens, your spine may become stiffer. It may become hard to bend for everyday activities.

Diagnosis: Your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask you about your medical history. You may get X-rays of your back, looking at the sacroiliac joints. A blood test for a protein called HLA-B27 may help confirm a diagnosis.

Sjogren's Syndrome

What it is: Sjogren's syndrome causes parts of your body to dry out, like the eyes or mouth. Some people also have RA and lupus. Others just have Sjogren’s. The cause is unknown, but it happens when your immune system attacks those body parts. It's more common in women than men.


Diagnosis: Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your medical history. You may also get other tests. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may do a biopsy, taking tissue from your inner lip to check in a lab.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 09, 2015
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