- What it is
- Medical tests
- Spondyloarthritis specialists
What is spondyloarthritis?
Spondyloarthritis or spondyloarthropathy is the name of a family of inflammatory rheumatic diseases that cause arthritis. The most common one attacks the spine and, in some cases, the joints of the arms and legs. It can also involve the skin, intestines and eyes.
Two types of spondyloarthritis can be differentiated according to symptoms:
- Ankylosing spondylitis, which primarily affects the spine, is the most common of these inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
- Axial spondyloarthritis
- peripheral spondyloarthritis
- reactive arthritis (formerly known as Reiter’s syndrome)
- psoriatic arthritis
- enteropathic arthritis or spondylitis associated with inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease).
Prognosis of the disease
In general, the prognosis of ankylosing spondylitis is quite good. Although it has a slowly progressive course.
Symptoms of spondyloarthritis
The main symptom in most patients is low back pain (axial spondyloarthritis); and in a minority of patients, the main symptom is pain and swelling of arms and legs (peripheral spondyloarthritis).
Medical tests for spondyloarthritis
Correct diagnosis requires that a physician
- Evaluate the patient’s medical history
- Perform a physical examination
- Order imaging, such as an x-ray of the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis.
- Order a blood test (detection of the HLA-B27 gene).
X-ray changes in these joints, known as sacroiliitis, are a key symptom of spondyloarthritis.
In the event that the X-rays do not show enough changes, but the symptoms are very suspicious, your doctor may order an MRI to get a better look at these joints and detect early signs of the disease before they show up on the X-rays.
What are the causes of spondyloarthritis?
Ankylosing spondylitis is hereditary and many genes can cause it (up to 30 genes).
The most common sufferers are adolescents and people in their 20s and 30s, especially males.
Can it be prevented?
As we have indicated, it is a hereditary disease, so prevention is complicated.
Treatments for spondyloarthritis
All patients should receive physical therapy and do joint-directed exercises. The most recommended are those that promote spinal elongation and mobility.
In case of localized (not generalized) joint swelling, injections of corticosteroid medications into the joints or tendon sheaths can be quickly effective.
Surgical treatment is very useful in some patients, as a total hip replacement is performed. It is recommended for those patients who experience hip pain and disability due to joint destruction from cartilage loss.
Which specialist treats you?
The rheumatologist is the specialist who treats spondyloarthritis.