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Campaign to reduce delay in diagnosis for people with axial spondyloarthritis

The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) has launched a new campaign aimed at ophthalmologists, dermatologists and gastroenterologists called Back Pain Plus.

The initiative aims to encourage professionals in these fields to think about the link between axial spondyloarthritis including ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and acute anterior uveitis (AAU), psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

As it stands:

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  • 26% of people with AS have AAU & 40% of people with acute anterior uveitis have spondyloarthritis
  • 9% of people with AS have psoriasis
  • 7% of people with AS have IBD

The delay in diagnosis from onset of symptoms for people with AS still stands at 8.5 years and Back Pain Plus aims to increase rates for appropriate referral to rheumatology for those who are suffering with back pain plus uveitis, psoriasis and/or IBD.

AS is mainly managed through a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and exercise but if left untreated can lead to irreversible damage to the spine where, in the most severe cases, permanent fusion will occur causing permanent kyphosis.

Debbie Cook, NASS Chief Executive, says “With current delay in diagnosis in the UK still at eight and a half years more needs to be done to help get more appropriate and timely referrals into rheumatology. We are hoping that, with the cooperation of consultants, registrars and other health professionals in the fields of ophthalmology, dermatology and gastroenterology, we will see a reduction in this delay”.