COVID-19 Resources: Keeping you safe | Vaccine Information | Visitor Policy and Hours
Maine Street Closure: Learn More
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > 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, 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:
It is important to recognize that the spondyloarthropathies are different from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in children.
Experts don't know what causes spondyloarthropathies. The presence of a particular gene, HLA-B27, is often associated with ankylosing spondylitis. Spondyloarthropathies, especially ankylosing spondylitis, are more likely to run in families than other forms of rheumatic disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
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.
Spondyloarthropathies are diagnosed through a medical history, lab tests, imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI, 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.
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.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRicha Dhawan MD - Rheumatology
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Richa Dhawan MD - Rheumatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.