May 01, 2013

A different sort of arthritis

Spondyloarthropathies

Spondyloarthropathies

For years, your husband has had to work at maintaining flexibility in his lower back due to an arthritis-like spine condition. So far, it's worked out pretty well, despite the occasional pain flare-ups. The condition is one of a group of disorders called spondyloarthropathies (spon-duh-loe-ahr-THROP-uh-thees).

Spondyloarthropathies are among more than 100 forms of arthritis. These chronic inflammatory back disorders often can be managed with exercise and drug therapy as necessary.

Distinguishing marks

Spondyloarthropathies are a group of inflammatory disorders, meaning the immune system acts against the body by targeting specific tissues. Although these disorders can cause inflammation in different areas of the body, they often affect the spine — in particular, where the spine attaches to the pelvis (sacroiliac joints). The inflammation also affects sites where tendons and ligaments attach to bones in the spine and other joints, such as where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. Joints affected by this chronic inflammation have a tendency to form new bone. As a consequence, affected joint bones may fuse together.

Inflammatory back pain differs from that caused by age-related or trauma-associated arthritis. Symptoms of inflammatory back pain include prolonged morning stiffness that improves temporarily with activity. Inflammatory back pain gets worse if you rest or are inactive as opposed to a mechanical type of back problem, which typically gets worse with activity.

Other signs and symptoms that may be associated with spondyloarthropathy include: