What are spondyloarthropathies?
Spondyloarthropathies are a family of long-term (chronic) diseases of joints. These diseases occur in children (juvenile spondyloarthropathies) and adults. They include ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter's syndrome (reactive arthritis), psoriatic arthritis, and joint problems linked to inflammatory bowel disease (enteropathic arthritis). Spondyloarthropathies are sometimes called spondyloarthritis.
Although all spondyloarthropathies have different symptoms and outcomes, they are similar in that all of them:
What causes spondyloarthropathies?
Experts don't know what causes spondyloarthropathies. The presence of a particular gene, HLA-B27, is often associated with ankylosing spondylitis. Spondyloarthropathies are more likely to run in families than other forms of rheumatic disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the symptoms?
Spondyloarthropathies often cause:
Although spondyloarthropathies all result in joint pain, each type also has specific symptoms.
A general difference between spondyloarthropathies and juvenile spondyloarthropathies is that in adults, the spine generally is affected, while in children the arms and legs are more frequently affected. Children may have 4 or fewer joints that are painful or swollen (typically the knees or ankles), inflammation of a part of the eye (iritis), and neck pain and stiffness.
Spondyloarthropathies may cause inflammatory eye disease, particularly uveitis. In some cases, spondyloarthropathies can cause disabilities, particularly if bones in the spine fuse together. People who have spondyloarthropathies for a long time may develop complications in organs, such as the heart and lungs.
How are spondyloarthropathies diagnosed?
Spondyloarthropathies are diagnosed through a medical history, lab tests, and by symptoms of joint and tissue inflammation, morning stiffness, and other symptoms unique to a specific spondyloarthropathy (such as scaly skin in psoriatic arthritis). Different types of tests may be done for the different spondyloarthropathies.
How are they treated?
In most cases, spondyloarthropathies are mild and may be undiagnosed for many years. Most people do not have trouble with daily activities. Treatment is focused on relieving pain and stiffness and on good posture and stretching of the affected areas to prevent stiffening and deformity. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation linked to spondyloarthropathies. Other treatment options depend on the type of spondyloarthropathy you have. For example, medicines are used to treat intestinal inflammation in enteropathic arthritis.
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