Spondylitis — causes and risk factors

In this guide, you'll learn about spondylitis causes with helpful advice from Laser Spine Institute.

Spondylitis is a spine condition that generally refers to the inflammation and swelling of the vertebrae in the spine. Most physicians use the term “spondylitis” to refer to a compilation of arthritic spine conditions that cause the joints and vertebrae of the spine to swell. Because of the complex nature of spondylitis, it is often difficult to determine a specific cause of this spine condition without an MRI or CT scan.

If you suspect you have spondylitis, contact your physician as soon as possible to schedule a consultation and determine your spine condition. If left untreated, spondylitis can cause deformity of the spine and severely limited mobility. Your physician may ask you about your symptoms and family history before you are scheduled for an MRI test.

Causes of spondylitis

Spondylitis is a complex spine condition because it can be caused by certain factors of spinal arthritis, as well as a side effect of a different spine condition or a symptom of certain diseases. There is no known cause of spondylitis, but many researchers suggest that genetics may play a huge factor in patients who develop this condition. Ninety percent of patients with ankylosing spondylitis are carriers of a specific gene that may be an indication of an individual’s risk of developing this spine condition.

Spondylitis is often present as a side effect of another spine condition, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Injury
  • Spinal infection
  • Tuberculosis

To accurately determine the cause of spondylitis and the severity of the condition, your physician may request blood work in addition to your MRI or CT scan.

Risk factors for spondylitis

While it is difficult to determine the cause of spondylitis, there are certain risk factors that may increase your chance of developing this condition. Researchers are inclined to believe that genetics impact an individual’s chance of developing spondylitis because 90 percent of the individuals with this condition have a specific gene present in their genetic makeup. Scientists have developed blood tests to test an individual for this gene to determine the risk of developing spondylitis.

In addition to genetics, this spine condition largely affects men more than women. It is also predominately present in individuals ages 17–45. If you have a history of spondylitis in your family, and you suspect that you have this spine condition, schedule a consultation with your physician to review your symptoms and determine your condition.

Symptoms and treatments for spondylitis

The symptoms of spondylitis differ depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Generally, individuals will experience the following symptoms caused by spondylitis:

  • Back pain
  • Back stiffness
  • Limited range of motion with back
  • Abnormal spinal curvature
  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased muscle strength in legs
  • Chronic pain in back

Unfortunately, there are no treatments to cure spondylitis. However, there are several treatment options to help relieve the chronic pain associated with spondylitis so you can regain your quality of life.

Laser Spine Institute does not offer treatment options for spondylitis. However, if you have spondylitis, our care team can help you find alternative treatment options to relieve the pain associated with spondylitis.