Spondyloarthritis is a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the spine, joints, tendons, ligaments and surrounding areas. These conditions also can affect the eyes, gut, urinary tract, skin and sometimes the heart and lungs. Spondyloarthritis includes:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Arthritis of inflammatory bowel disease

Spondyloarthritis tends to impact those in their teens and 20s, and young men two to three times more frequently than young women. In some cases, these diseases are genetic and associated with the gene HLA-B27. They can affect every ethnic group, although they are less common in African Americans who have a lower frequency of HLA-B27. Spondyloarthritis may occur in as many as 13 percent of people with HLA-B27.

While there is no course of prevention at this time, treatment can reduce discomfort and delay the development of spinal deformities. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) offer considerable symptom relief. A regular regimen of recreational activities and back exercises will improve comfort levels.

Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis, formerly called Reiter’s Syndrome, typically occurs as a reaction to an infection somewhere else in the body, usually the bowel or urogenital tract. Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacteria most commonly associated with reactive arthritis of the urogenital tract. Eating foods or substances contaminated by bacteria, such as salmonella, shigella, campylobacter and yersinia, can cause intestinal reactive arthritis. In many patients, the infection is not obvious.

General symptoms of reactive arthritis usually begin about one to three weeks after an infection. The initial symptoms include joint pain and swelling, skin rashes, mouth sores, redness of the eyes, fever and weight loss. Symptoms may come and go, and may be so mild that patients do not notice them.

Arthritis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders, including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, that cause an inflammation of the intestines. Approximately 7 percent to 20 percent of people with IBD develop arthritis, which typically affects the large joints of the lower extremities. Men and women with IBD are affected by arthritis equally. Symptoms of arthritis usually occur at the same time a person is experiencing symptoms of IBD.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, consult a physician as soon as you can.