Spondylitis is one form of more than 100 types of arthritis. Meaning “inflammation of the vertebrae,” spondylitis (more specifically, ankylosing spondylitis ) is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by inflammation that attacks the sacroiliac (SI) joints, which connect the pelvis and sacrum. From here, inflammation and stiffness typically spreads upward, affecting the vertebrae and facet joints of the lumbar (lower back), thoracic (mid-back), and cervical (neck) regions of the spine. Long-term, or chronic, inflammation can erode the concave vertebral endplates between which intervertebral discs are sandwiched, which eventually flattens and squares off the end of individual vertebrae. The discs, tendons, and ligaments along the way can also be affected by inflammation and eventually ossify, a process in which soft tissue progressively turns to bone. As a result, the ossified spinal components can lead to complete spinal fusion and a number of spinal deformities. The condition can cause varying degrees of localized joint and disc pain, stiffness, and tenderness. Although neuropathic symptoms are not a primary result of ankylosing spondylitis, shooting pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness can arise if spinal cord and nerve root compression occur.
Like other forms of arthritis, there is no cure for spondylitis, but that doesn’t mean you are relegated to a life of discomfort and spinal deformation if you suffer from the condition. Although you won’t be able to halt or reverse the effects of the condition on your spinal anatomy, you may be able to find relief with a regimen of conservative (nonsurgical) treatments. Such treatments might include physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, pain medication, and anti-inflammatory drugs, or nonsurgical holistic options, such as gentle massage, yoga, and targeted stretching techniques.
Laser Spine Institute
In some cases of spondylitis, the orthopedic experts at Laser Spine Institute may be able to help patients find relief. As a leader in endoscopic spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute’s surgeons have perfected minimally invasive methods to treat the localized joint pain and neuropathic symptoms that are commonly associated with spondylitis. To find out if you’re a candidate for one of our safe and effective endoscopic procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute to schedule a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.