Spine Archive: Arthritis

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What is Reiter’s Syndrome?

To learn more about syndromes such as Reiter’s and other conditions affecting the spine, search the Knowledge Center.

When the body undergoes a bacterial infection, a reaction can be arthritis (inflammation and/or stiffness of the joints) – this reactionary arthritis is called Reiter’s Syndrome. Typically, the infected areas include the intestines, genitals, and urinary tract and can lead to joint inflammation and redness most often in the knees, ankles, and spreading to the spine.

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Spinal Inflammation Treatments

Inflammatory disorder treatment varies depending on the type of inflammation the patient is experiencing. Genetic testing allows physicians to pinpoint specific disorders and therefore plan a proper discourse of treatment for the patient. In patients exhibiting ankylosing spondylitis, anti-inflammatory medications medications and muscle relaxers are prescribed so the patient can move freely without pain. In some extreme situations surgery may be a necessity to remove bony growths and relieve pressure on joints. It’s possible that a small percentage of patients with severe forms of ankylosing spondylitis will need hip joint replacement surgery. In patients with an infection, plenty of rest, prescriptions of antibiotics, and joint braces may be employed.

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Symptoms of Spinal Inflammation

Back pain is often a patient’s main concern with spinal inflammation. For patients with infections, the slow presence of back pain along with fatigue, chills, and a fever may occur. In akylosing spondylitis, this slow presence of pain can come and go. Patients will generally find increased pain at night and stiffness in the morning. In addition, ankylosing spondylitis disrupts posture which can lead to pain and swelling in other body parts like the heart, lungs, and eyes.

Because ankylosing spondylitis has been linked genetically, genetic testing can help diagnose and in turn aid a physician in determining treatments.

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Spinal Inflammation

Osteoporosis, arthritis, and infection are just a few of a wide range of conditions that can lead to spinal inflammation. While this is rare, inflammation of the spine can be very painful and can cause disability if left untreated. The following are inflammatory disorders along with explanations.

  • Ankylosing spondylitis – one of the most common spinal inflammatory disorders, ankylosing spondylitis is a form of spinal arthritis. Most often, soft tissue in the tendons and ligaments are inflamed. This inflammation can cause the soft tissue to degrade. Once inflammation is relieved, new bone can grow to take its place. If this growth of bone becomes reoccurring, two bones may completely fuse together. Genetics influence akylosing spondylitis and therefore genetic testing has played an important role in diagnosis.
  • Arachnoiditis – the spinal cord membrane (which surrounds the spine) is infected
  • Discitis – the space(s) between the vertebrae is infected
  • Sacrolilitis – the joint between the pelvis and lower back is inflamed
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Genetic Testing and its Role in Detecting Akylosing Spondylitis

Ongoing joint pain or chronic arthritis within the spine is referred to as Ankylosing spondylitis. Symptoms that are often present in youths and early adults include stiffness and back pain. As time goes on the bones of the vertebrae will slowly fuse together and back movement will be hindered. This fusion of the bone is referred to as ankylosis.

Akylosing spondylitis can be prevalent in multiple family members but is not exclusively a genetics issue. Factors in the environment can also play key roles in the development of the disease. These environmental factors have not yet been fully discovered. Not to worry, inheriting a variation of ankylosing spondylitis doesn’t necessarily mean a patient will become a victim of the disease.

Because there are different variations of genes related to ankylosing spondylitis, genetic testing can be implemented. This allows the physician to pinpoint specific gene variations responsible for the patient’s condition and address the disease with an exclusive treatment plan.