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What You Should Know About Spondyloarthritis?

Dr. Shrenik Shah 92% (1271 ratings)
Hand Surgery, M.S. (Orthopaedics
Orthopedist, Ahmedabad  •  34 years experience
What You Should Know About Spondyloarthritis?

The bones and joints orchestrate very well with each other for smooth movements of various joints and the spine. However, due to various reasons, some identified and others unknown, there could be inflammation of the areas where the bones join the muscles leading to impaired movement. The range of motion could be reduced or it could be painful, thereby, limiting movement. Spondyloarthritis includes a group of inflammatory diseases that involves the bones and joints and enthuses which are areas where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bones. This causes conditions like plantar fasciitis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis. The term spondyloarthritis is a blanket term to describe any of the above-mentioned conditions.

Read on to know a little more in detail about it:

Causes: While the exact etiology is not identified for sure, most patients with spondyloarthritis have an autosomal dominant gene (HLA-B27). Chronic infections could trigger the onset of the disease too.

Symptoms:

1. In all forms of spondyloarthritis, there is always inflammation of the spine, joints and entheses. If the fingers or toes are involved, there could be swelling leading to what are typically known as 'sausage digits'.

2. There is sacroiliitis which is inflammation of the joint between the pelvis and the spine, and spondylitis which is inflammation of the joints between the spines. 3. Family history and autosomal dominant gene.

Diagnosis:

A detailed medical history and physical examination form the cornerstone of a confirmed diagnosis. In addition, radiographic examination and diagnostic blood tests also could be done to confirm the diagnosis. Radiographs, especially, of the spine and the low back show typical changes including sacroilitis in suspected cases of spondyloarthritis. If the spine does not show these changes, but there is a high likelihood of spondyloarthritis, then MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can be used to confirm the diagnosis.

As a final step, a blood test for the HLA-B27 gene can also be confirmatory. However, it is not true that a person with the gene will definitely develop the disease.

Treatment:

  1. The most important aspect of treatment is the use of pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which help manage pain and inflammation.
  2. Corticosteroid injections may sometimes be given directly into the joint spaces or the membranes to provide quick relief of these symptoms.
  3. ESWT / RSWT has a definite role to cure enthesopathy. Plantar fasciitis, and achillodynia can be cured with ESWT. Even small joints of hand and feet are amenable to treatment with RSWT. It is nonoperative and noninvasive treatment and has no side effects.
  4. Very rarely, stronger drugs such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine may be used.
  5. Another set of drugs known as TNF-blockers (tumor necrotizing factor blockers) are also shown to be highly effective in controlling the pain of the spine and joints.
  6. In very severe cases, surgery may be required to correct joint damages or correct severe degenerative changes.
  7. Exercise plays a very vital role in controlling the issue and improving range of motion. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
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