Back Pain That Won’t Go Away? Get Checked for Spondyloarthritis

Jun 18, 2020

You may have heard of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, but have you heard of spondyloarthritis? This type of arthritis attacks the spinal column; and, for some people, can affect the intestines, eyes, arms, and legs. The main symptom people with this arthritis experience is low back pain.

So, if you cannot figure out why you have back pain that won’t go away, you may want to have your doctor check for spondyloarthritis. Read on to learn more about this condition and how to treat it.

What Is Spondyloarthritis?

Spondyloarthritis causes inflammation in the entheses, which is connective tissue where ligaments or tendons connect to bones. Spondyloarthritis itself is actually an umbrella term for many inflammatory diseases that mainly affect the spine, pelvis, and neck. The most common form of the condition is ankylosing spondylitis, which causes bones in the spine to become less flexible or even fuse together.

However, other spondyloarthritis variations include:

  • Reactive arthritis , which is triggered by in infection in another area of your body — mainly in the urinary tract or intestines
  • Psoriatic arthritis , which affects some people with the skin condition psoriasis
  • Enteropathic arthritis , which is an inflammatory spinal condition mainly seen in people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

So, on the whole, how does spondyloarthritis differ from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis? While all of these diseases are inflammatory disorders, rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the protective cartilage in smaller joints — such as in the wrists, knees, and hands.

Spondyloarthritis, on the other hand, can affect peripheral areas in the leg and arm joints, and the main symptoms of pain are in the spinal column. Spondyloarthritis seems to be more closely related to rheumatoid arthritis since it is linked to autoimmune disorders, while osteoarthritis is mainly caused by mechanical wear and tear of joints.

What Causes Spondyloarthritis?

Again, spondyloarthritis is linked to a lot of autoimmune disorders, like Crohn’s disease. In general terms, autoimmune diseases are disorders where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and floods the body with inflammation.

Besides being linked to secondary autoimmune disorders, scientists have linked about 30 genes to this type of arthritis. A gene called HLA-B27 has been found in about 90 percent of people who have ankylosing spondylitis.

How Is Spondyloarthritis Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose spondyloarthritis, your doctor may order imaging tests, like x-rays or MRIs. Your doctor may also order a blood test to check for genetic markers. They may go over your family history and your current health history.

If you are diagnosed with spondyloarthritis, your treatment plan will depend on which category of the disease you have. For example, if you have reactive arthritis, then a course of antibiotics may be able to treat the underlying infection that’s causing your arthritic symptoms.

A change in diet can help some people that have an autoimmune diseases and spondyloarthritis. For example, you may find pain relief by cutting out sugars, fried foods, refined carbs, MSG, and aspartame.

If you are suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, you may need to get corticosteroid injections to relieve inflammation. However, these types of injections only provide temporary relief, so surgery may be a long-term solution for severe cases.

During surgery, your doctor may fuse the spinal column with grafts or screws to provide stability and reduce pain. They may also may perform a laminectomy, a procedure where pieces of vertebrae are removed to relieve nerve pressure and swelling.

Lastly, if you are suffering from psoriatic spondyloarthritis, then your doctor may recommend:

  • Prescription creams or light machines to treat psoriasis rashes
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation
  • Joint replacement surgery to restore mobility with artificial prosthesis

Professionals at Sarasota Arthritis Center can help you with these kinds of treatments; reach out to us today for more information.

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