Spondyloarthritis is a type of arthritis that damages the spine, and in some people, it also affects the joints of the hands and feet. It can also attack the skin, intestines and eyes. The main symptom of spondyloarthritis in most patients is pain in the lower back.
Spondyloarthritis is the name of a family of rheumatic infectious diseases that cause arthritis. This type of arthrosis is different from other arthrosis because it affects the place where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bone.
Related: “How Do You Slow Down Arthritis?“
It has the following two main types:
Axial spondyloarthritis: Pain is often felt in the lower back.
People who are at risk of developing spondyloarthritis
It is not always clear why some people develop spondyloarthritis, but if you have the following conditions, your risk of developing this disease is high:
The symptoms of spondyloarthritis include the following (there may be other symptoms, so you must see a doctor):
Redness and pain in the eyes
Pain and swelling in the tendons of the fingers and toes, where the tendons and ligaments connect to the bone, usually at the back or bottom of the heel.
Psoriasis skin sensitivity
Abdominal pain and bloating
Amas or swelling of the fingers
If your doctor suspects spondyloarthropathy, they will examine your body and joints and review your medical records.
You may be asked to have an X-ray or other imaging to check your hip joints (lower abdomen), which may show early signs of spondyloarthritis.
A blood test may show if you have a gene that increases your risk of developing spondyloarthropathy. It is called the HLA-B27 gene.
When you see your doctor for a diagnosis, they will start by reviewing your medical history, symptoms, and risk factors (for example, family history) for axial spondyloarthritis. After that, a physical examination will be done.
During a physical exam, your doctor will assess your mobility and look for joint inflammation in your spine, pelvis, and hips. He or she may ask you to move your body in specific ways (e.g., stretch your toes, lift your body. While lying down, rest your chin on your chest) to determine how much you can move. Affected and whether these movements cause you pain or not.
They may also perform a neurological evaluation to evaluate your sensory and motor functions, including your reflexes and muscle strength.
Inflammatory markers: Blood tests can detect inflammatory markers that indicate inflammation in the body. Tests may detect erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, and plasma viscosity (PV) levels, all of which are typical markers of inflammation.
More than 95% of whites with axSpA carry this gene, whereas only 80% of people from Mediterranean countries and 50% of blacks with axSpA are HLA-B27 positive.
Although blood tests alone cannot provide enough evidence to diagnose axial spondyloarthritis, these blood markers can help your doctor learn about your risk factors.
X-rays are a standard imaging test that doctors use to check for bone damage in the spine and sacroiliac joint. Along with showing bone damage, X-ray images may show that the joint space is widening or narrowing and detect bony fusion. Bone damage is only detectable in people with ankylosing spondylitis. X-rays do not detect bone or joint damage in people with non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA).
No known cure exists, but your doctor can help you manage the condition.
A rheumatology specialist will do the treatment of this disease. A rheumatology subspecialist is a doctor specializing in treating diseases such as arthritis.
Depending on the type of spondyloarthropathy, you may also see these specialists:
Physiotherapists, exercise and physiotherapy can help the flexibility of joints.
Gastroenterologist, this specialist deals with diseases of the digestive system.
Eye doctor If you have a condition that affects your vision, you should see an eye doctor.
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is usually the first step. Aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen are the most common types. They relieve pain and reduce swelling in the affected joints.
You may be prescribed a more potent medication if your symptoms do not improve after taking an NSAID.
You may receive a certain amount of corticosteroid in a swollen joint for quick but temporary pain relief.
Moreover, the following methods help relieve the pain of this disease:
If you have reactive arthritis, you may be prescribed antibiotics.
Another class of drugs, known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), may be prescribed to help treat arthritis in the arms and legs.
TNF inhibitors block a chemical in the blood that causes inflammation.
If your disease has caused extensive joint damage, doctors may consider surgery to replace an artificial joint. Knee and hip joint replacement is the most common type of surgery.
Sometimes, when the vertebrae are bent forward, doctors may perform surgery to straighten your spine. This is considered a risky practice.
Consuming the following foods aggravates the infection in the body, so they should be avoided:
Also, consuming the following foods helps fight infections in the body:
Also, remember that increasing the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, selenium, and fish oil for their omega-3 is necessary. It is also essential to get enough vitamin D and calcium.
Due to spondyloarthritis, you should consult your physiotherapist before any exercise, but the following exercises are suitable for you:
Axial spondyloarthritis is a rheumatological disease that affects the spine and axial joints. It can be diagnosed through physical examinations, imaging, and blood tests. Because chronic low back pain is one of the early symptoms of axSpA, it may be misdiagnosed.
If you experience persistent back pain, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis of axial spondyloarthritis is the key to receiving treatment and preventing further damage to bones and joints. Living with chronic pain can be difficult, but early intervention and treatment can help reduce your pain and inflammation and improve your overall quality of life.
Dr. Majid Zohrabi started treating his patients in Dubai in 2022 and continues his activities in private medical centers in the UAE.