Spondylitis – An Overview

What is Spondylitis

Spondylitis is a spine condition that causes inflammation in the spine, specifically in the vertebrae and the spinal joints. If the condition is severe, the facet joints and vertebrae can swell and move out of alignment in the spine. This can restrict movement, cause stiffness, and possibly impact a surrounding nerve.

If you notice the development of these symptoms, and you are not able to find relief after a week of resting, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and applying hot/cold compresses, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. 

Your physician can review your symptoms and order an MRI to determine if this condition is the cause of your pain. Once you are diagnosed, your doctor can explain the type of spondylitis you have, what caused your condition, and the treatment options available to you. 

Types of Spondylitis

Spondylitis is an umbrella term that is often used by physicians to refer to a group of chronic conditions that involve inflammation of the spinal vertebrae or facet joints. This group of micro-conditions includes ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy, juvenile spondyloarthropathy, reactive arthritis, and enteropathic arthritis. 

The most common of these is ankylosing spondylitis, which is a spine condition that describes the stiffness and pain in the spine caused by arthritis in the joints and vertebrae. When left untreated, ankylosing spondylitis can cause limited mobility and debilitating pain, especially if the inflamed joints compress a local nerve root. 

Common Causes

Spondylitis is a complex spine condition. The exact spondylitis cause is unknown. However, research strongly suggests that genetics play a main role in the development of the disease. This is due to the fact that the minority of people with spondylitis carry a gene called HLA-B27. This gene is in more than 95% of caucasian people with ankylosing spondylitis. Although in other ethnic groups, the association between the presence of HLA-B27 and the development of ankylosing spondylitis varies. 

In addition, the majority of people with HLA-B27 never develop ankylosing spondylitis. It’s clear that something else is responsible for starting the disease. Some additional spondylitis causes include: 

  • Bacterial infections – Bacterial infections, particularly those in the gastrointestinal tract, appear to trigger ankylosing spondylitis in people who have the genetic makeup for the disease. 
  • Having family members with the condition – People with the HLA-B27 gene who have relatives with ankylosing spondylitis are more likely to develop it themselves. 
  • The presence of other genetic markers – Other genes, including IL23R and ARTS1, appear to be linked to the development of ankylosing spondylitis. 

Determining the cause is an essential part of treatment. It is necessary to pinpoint the exact cause in order to treat this condition at the root cause.

Your Treatment Options

Your doctor will likely begin your treatment with conservative pain relief options. Such as physical therapy, hot/cold compresses, stretches, and pain medication. Many conservative treatment options are available to you. Your doctor can work to find the combination of therapies that best relieves your pain. 

BEST Health System Can Help

If you do not respond to conservative treatment, you may need to consider a surgical option. Contact BEST Health System today. Our team aims to provide patients with the most effective, least invasive treatment option. The BEST is yet to come.