What is spondylitis?

Spondylitis, also known as ankylosing spondyloarthritis, rheumatoid spondylitis and morbus Bechterew, is an inflammatory disease of the joints of the spine and sacroiliac joints (at the junction of the pelvis and spine). The consequences are loss of mobility and progressive joint deformity, and some patients have ocular inflammation and alteration of the heart valves. In addition, spondylitis sometimes precedes another inflammatory bowel disease.

Prognosis of the disease

The prognosis of this pathology is good, although it progresses slowly. Five percent of patients worsen even with treatment, and 95% of them improve significantly. Currently, half of the patients are symptom-free due to biologic treatments. However, this pathology generates a deterioration in the quality of life of diagnosed patients and those who have been diagnosed late. In addition, the prognosis of the disease worsens when it begins at an early age. In terms of sex, women tend to fare better than men.

The prognosis of this pathology is good, although it progresses slowly.

Symptoms of spondylitis

The first symptoms of the disease are lumbar pain and stiffness, which can also affect the cervical and dorsal area of the spine, or pain due to inflammation in the buttocks. Other symptoms related to this disease are:

– Uveitis

– Pulmonary involvement

– Osteoporosis

– Inflammatory bowel diseases

– Hip arthritis

Medical tests for spondylitis

To diagnose this pathology, the rheumatology specialist may request some simple tests that will assess whether spondylitis is present.

  • Medical history: medical history can provide additional information to study whether spondylitis is present. Genetics can also play an important role in the detection of this pathology, so it is important to know the family history.
  • X-ray of the pelvis and lower back: to see if the vertebrae have suffered due to inflammation.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Blood tests: the HLA-B27 gene is related to the appearance of this pathology. However, it is not because you have this gene that you develop the disease.
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What are the causes of spondylitis?

The causes are not clear; the mechanisms involved in this disease and its evolution are still being studied. In addition, it is believed that there is a genetic and environmental predisposition.

Can it be prevented?

Prevention of the disease is not possible since the cause is unknown. However, there are specific exercises that can promote mobility of the spine and strengthen the back muscles. This improves stiffness and positively influences the disease.

Treatments for spondylitis

Currently, there is no curative treatment, but significant symptomatic relief and a much slower progression of the disease can be obtained through the combined use of medical treatment and physiotherapeutic treatment. The physiotherapist can assess the flexibility of the spine and lumbar segment by means of different tests such as the Schober Test. In addition, it is important to study the state of the musculature to evaluate possible contractures and atrophy.

Which specialist treats it?

The rheumatologist is the specialist who treats spondylitis.