Spondyloarthropathy, or spondyloarthritis as it’s sometimes referred, encompasses the family of inflammatory rheumatic diseases that affect the spine, joints, ligaments and tendons. The American College of Rheumatology says spondyloarthropathy usually affects people in their teens and 20s. Young men are affected two to three times more often than young women, according to the college. These diseases can cause pain and stiffness in the back, neck, hands, knees and ankles. Other symptoms include fatigue and inflammation in the skin, eyes, lungs and heart valves. It can also cause considerable curvature of the spine.
Diseases in the spondyloarthropathy family include ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and psoriatic spondylitis, and the arthritis or spondylitis that is associated with the inflammatory bowel diseases. These can include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis is diagnosed when someone suffers from symptoms of one of these conditions but it does not become full blown.
Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes spondyloarthropathy but genetics are believed to play a part. These conditions tend to affect people who have relatives with a form of spondyloarthropathy. Many of these people have a shared genetic marker called HLA-B27. A certain kind of reactive arthritis can also stem from infections and bacteria including Chlamydia and salmonella.
A medical history and physical exam can help diagnose diseases under the spondyloarthropathy umbrella. An X-Ray may also be helpful. People with many different types of arthritis can benefit from exercise and physical therapy. This can help ease pain and stiffness and allow sufferers to become more mobile. Drug treatment may also help sufferers find some relief. This may be accomplished with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are effective for some people in treating some forms of arthritis. Surgery may also be necessary for some people suffering from different forms of spondyloarthropathy. New treatment options mean that people living with these conditions can have productive lives.