Spondyloarthropathies: Symptoms and Diagnosis
Broadly speaking, spondyloarthropathies refer to inflammatory arthritis related-diseases. However, we can identify different pathologies that belong to the group of spondyloarthropathies.
All of them have fairly common symptoms. Thus, we can group the ones you’ll discover below within this concept of spondyloarthropathies.
What are spondyloarthropathies?
Spondyloarthropathies refer to diseases that are related to inflammatory arthritis.
As the article “Pathogenesis of seronegative spondyloarthropathies” states, they constitute an inflammatory arthritis group. If its diagnosis is seronegative, then this means that it doesn’t affect the peripheral and atlanto-axial joints, enteritis, and extra-articular joints.
However, what diseases are included in the group of spondyloarthropathies? This is something that the article “Spondyloarthropathies. Usefulness of classification criteria” states. Let’s see what they are:
- Ankylosing spondylitis. A chronic rheumatic disease.
- Psoriatic arthritis. Chronic inflammation of the peripheral joints, spine, and entheses, associated with the presence of psoriasis.
- Juvenile spondyloarthritis. The same as above, but it affects young patients.
- Reactive arthritis. Joint inflammation that occurs due to an infection.
- Enteropathic arthritis. Associated with Crohn’s disease and inflammatory ulcerative colitis (UC).
The group of spondyloarthropathies also contains undifferentiated spondyloarthritis (uSpA). Although they refer to a group of patients with characteristics that make doctors suspect of this disease, the diagnostic criteria doesn’t allow them to be grouped into the previous groups.
Now that you know the diseases that fall into the group of spondyloarthropathies, you’ll see the symptoms that characterize them. Despite the fact that, as we explained above, there are different associated diseases, all of them usually manifest the symptoms that we’ll see below:
- Low back pain. Usually, this is the main warning sign that something’s wrong.
- Pain and swelling. It occurs in the arms and legs. Nevertheless, it isn’t a very common symptom.
- Spinal fusion. It’s a consequence of ankylosing spondylitis that causes low back pain.
These are some of the symptoms. However, as we mentioned above, psoriasis or Crohn’s disease can also occur, which may be associated with spondyloarthropathies. Going to the doctor if you feel any discomfort is important. This way, they can request the appropriate tests and diagnose you.
Right when you visit your doctor due to any of the symptoms we explained above, they’ll request a series of tests. Firstly, they’ll review your medical history and then proceed to do a physical exam. In this isn’t enough, there are other options:
- X-ray. They’ll allow the medical professional to see the changes that occurred in the joints. However, if they’re very recent, they may not be entirely noticeable.
- Magnetic resonance. It allows doctors to detect the early signs of spondyloarthropathies that wouldn’t appear on the X-ray.
Normally, before doing these tests, doctors request a blood test. The reason is that if the HLA-B27 genetic marker is detected in the blood, it’s likely that the patient is suffering from a spondyloarthropathy. However, an X-ray or MRI is still required to confirm it.
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How are spondyloarthropathies treated?
Now that you know a little more about spondyloarthropathies, you’re surely thinking of the current treatment options.
If there’s a spinal fusion, the obvious choice is surgery. However, in other cases, if the condition isn’t serious, medical professionals mainly resort to:
- Exercises that promote joint flexibility and mobility
- Drugs that help reduce pain and inflammation.
- In severe cases, total or partial replacement surgery is required.
In short, an early diagnosis of a spondyloarthropathy will allow you to take the necessary measures to avoid having to undergo surgery. However, this isn’t always easy, as you may attribute the pain to poor posture, for example.
This article aims to raise awareness of the importance of always seeing your doctor instead of making assumptions. Early treatment will help you avoid many problems in this type of situation.