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What Are Spondyloarthropathies?

A group of chronic joint conditions, spondyloarthropathies include ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and enteropathic arthritis. While each condition is distinct, all are similar in that they affect areas of the body where ligaments and tendons attach to bones and often involve the sacroiliac joints, which connect the lower spine to the pelvis. The causes of spondyloarthropathies are not yet well understood.

Symptoms of Spondyloarthropathies

In general, spondyloarthropathies often cause joint pain, fatigue, lower back pain and morning stiffness that improves with physical activity. Spondyloarthropathies can also cause inflammatory eye disease (uveitis). Additionally, each specific condition has its own unique symptoms:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis can cause pain and stiffness that initially affect the lower back and gradually progress to the upper back. In severe cases, the affected spinal joints may fuse together and reduce the range of motion of the spine.
  • Reactive arthritis can cause joint pain and inflammation, particularly in the sacroiliac joints and the joints in the fingers, feet and toes. Some people also experience fever, unintended weight loss and skin rashes.
  • Psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that is associated with psoriasis, usually causes scaly red skin patches that precede the development of arthritis symptoms in large joints, such as the hips and sacroiliac joints. . The affected fingers and toes may swell (a condition sometimes referred to as “sausage digits”).
  • Enteropathic arthritis is a type of arthritis that is accompanied by inflammation of the intestinal wall, which can cause abdominal pain, and diarrhea with blood and mucus. In addition to the sacroiliac joints, the arthritis typically affects other large joints, such as the elbows, hips, knees and ankles.

How are spondyloarthropathies treated?

In many cases, spondyloarthropathies cause mild or fluctuating symptoms and go undiagnosed for many years. Treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and stiffness with targeted stretches, postural improvements, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and specific anti-rheumatic medication . Other treatment options can vary based on the specific diagnosis; for instance, certain medications can be used to treat intestinal inflammation caused by enteropathic arthritis.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we offer comprehensive and personalized treatments for all spondyloarthropathies. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist at our office in Houston, Texas.