Spondylitis types include ankylosing spondylitis and Reiter’s syndrome

Spondylitis is a term used to refer to a group of various types of chronic conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation. These conditions are more formally known collectively by the medical term seronegative spondyloarthritides, with “sero” referring to blood serum, and negative indicating a lack of rheumatoid factor in the blood. While the precise causes of these conditions have yet to be identified, some researchers have linked spondylitis to certain genetic factors, such as the presence of the gene HLA-B27.

All forms of spondylitis share common tendencies, including low back pain, fatigue and morning stiffness that improves during the course of the day, as well as after exercise. Inflammation typically develops around the sites where ligaments attach to bone, and also affects the sacroiliac joint where the low back and pelvis meet. With that said, each specific condition under the umbrella term “spondylitis” has its own distinct symptoms and prognosis.

Spondylitis types and the areas of the body affected by the condition

Some types of spondylitis include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis. Stiffness and pain originate in the lower back and then progress to the upper back. In severe cases, the affected spinal vertebrae can calcify and fuse together, causing acute stiffness.
  • Reiter’s syndrome. Pain, inflammation and swelling affect the joints in the low back, pelvis, fingers, feet and toes.
  • Psoriatic arthritis. Associated with a skin condition called psoriasis, this form of arthritis affects large joints, such as the hip and sacroiliac joints, and is accompanied by scaly, red skin patches.
  • Enteropathic arthritis. A type of spinal arthritis that extends to the intestinal wall, this condition can cause abdominal pain as well as joint inflammation.

Treatment options

Spondylitis is a lifelong condition with no known cure. Nevertheless, most patients are able to effectively manage the associated pain and stiffness with treatments like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), posture correction, physical therapy and low-impact exercise. In some cases, regular consultations with a rheumatologist can help to mitigate the pain, monitor the progress of the condition and reduce the risk of complications. Surgery can become an option, but is usually reserved for cases where pain is severe or spinal stability is seriously jeopardized.

Laser Spine Institute does not provide minimally invasive surgery to treat spondylitis. However, if you have spondylitis, our caring team can help assist you to find treatment options that may help relieve your chronic pain. Contact us today.