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What are Spondyloarthropathies?

Spondyloarthropathies are a group of chronic inflammatory diseases of the spine and joints. Spondyloarthropathies can occur at any age, however, they occur more often in young males.

Common Spondyloarthropathies

The most common spondyloarthropathies include ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and arthritis secondary to inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Causes of Spondyloarthropathies

The exact cause of spondyloarthropathies is not yet known. A positive family history increases your risk of spondyloarthropathies. Infections with Chlamydia and other bacteria that cause dysentery have been found to activate reactive arthritis, a type of spondyloarthropathy.

Symptoms of Spondyloarthropathies

Although the different spondyloarthropathies have their own specific symptoms some of the common symptoms include fatigue, lower back pain which may spread to the buttocks, and early morning stiffness. You may also notice skin rashes, inflammatory eye diseases such as uveitis and intestinal disturbances. In severe cases, the spinal vertebrae fuse together, resulting in pain and stiffness of the spine. A few of the symptoms of spondyloarthropathies are like that of rheumatoid arthritis.

Complications of Spondyloarthropathies

Complications such as osteoporosis, uveitis, inflammation of aortic valve in the heart, psoriasis and intestinal inflammation may occur and may require appropriate treatment by a physician, ophthalmologist, dermatologist or gastroenterologist.

Diagnosis of Spondyloarthropathies

Diagnosis of spondyloarthropathies includes a detailed medical history, physical examination and laboratory investigation. Imaging tests such as X-ray of the sacroiliac joint and spine may be useful in detecting spondylitis (inflammation of the spine). You may also be tested for the presence of HLA-B27 gene.

Treatment for Spondyloarthropathies

The treatment of spondyloarthropathies is aimed at relieving pain and stiffness and preventing any deformity. Regular physical exercise can retard the progression of the disease and improve the functional ability of the joints.

Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and corticosteroids can provide symptomatic relief. For severe pain, corticosteroids can be directly injected into the joints or tendons. Antibiotics are prescribed for the management of reactive arthritis. TNF alpha blocker injections have been found to be quite effective in managing your symptoms. If you are prone to vertebral fracture, you are advised to wear a halo vest to stabilize the spine.

Surgical intervention is indicated in severe cases and may involve spinal fusion, osteotomy or total hip replacement.

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