Spondylitis is one form of more than 100 types of arthritis. Meaning “inflammation of the vertebrae,” “spondylitis” (more specifically, ankylosing spondylitis ) is a term for 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 (non-surgical) treatments. Such treatments might include physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, or non-surgical holistic options, such as gentle massage, yoga and targeted stretching techniques.
Laser Spine Institute
Laser Spine Institute does not offer minimally invasive surgery to treat spondylitis. However, our Care Team can help you learn more about your spine condition and find a treatment option that is right for you. If you have any questions about spondylitis, we encourage you to contact our Care Team and get the information you need to help you find relief from your chronic back pain.