Educational needs and challenges in axial spondyloarthritis

Anand Kumthekar, Mohamad Bittar, Maureen Dubreuil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose of reviewAxial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) affects 0.5-1% of the population in many regions of the world. This review summarizes the challenges in medical education around axSpA with attention to evidence around delayed diagnosis, clinician familiarity with typical axSpA features, such as inflammatory back pain and adherence to accepted management principles.Recent findingsClinicians who commonly manage patients with chronic back pain or other typical axSpA features are not consistently aware of the concept of inflammatory back pain and common extra-spinal manifestations. Further, clinicians may not be familiar with the nonradiographic spectrum of axSpA. Management of patients with possible axSpA does not consistently follow principles that would establish an axSpA diagnosis, and diagnosis of axSpA remains delayed by 6-7 years on average, with evidence suggesting management disparities on the basis of sex and race in some cases. Referral recommendations have increased the probability of axSpA diagnosis up to about 40% and, may complement educational efforts in axSpA.SummaryEducational efforts in axSpA should focus on providing front-line clinicians with a better understanding of inflammatory back pain, the nonradiographic form of axSpA, and accepted principles in axSpA management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent opinion in rheumatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • axial spondyloarthritis
  • diagnostic delay
  • education
  • referral strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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