Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What is Spondyloarthropathy?

If you are experiencing joint pain for the first time and have seen a rheumatologist for the first time, you may have received a diagnosis of spondyloarthropathy or spondyloarthrosis. What is it? What type of arthritis do you have?

Your doctor may have given you a vague description or may have said you have some symptoms but they don't quite fit other arthritis diagnoses. That is the case with spondyloarthropathy, usually called undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy. You have some symptoms that fit an arthritis diagnosis, but those symptoms aren't severe enough or in enough parts of your body to allow your doctor to make another diagnosis. The symptoms are enough, however, to allow your doctor to make the diagnosis of spondyloarthropathy.

This diagnosis is often a starting point for patients. As you work with your doctor and he or she gets to know you and your symptoms better, he or she may change your diagnosis. As your symptoms develop, he or she may also change your diagnosis. The results of your lab tests and imaging tests may also affect your diagnosis. It often takes several visits to the doctor and many tests before an arthritis diagnosis is confirmed. This is especially true of a seronegative diagnosis, where no positive results are found in your blood and your diagnosis is made on symptoms and physical changes.

A diagnosis of spondyloarthropathy often is changed later on to a diagnosis of one of the spondyloarthritis diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriac arthritis, or several others. Symptoms of spondyloarthropathy may also be similar to rheumatoid arthritis and your diagnosis may be changed to this later on as well.

Some people with this diagnosis never develop more advanced symptoms and they continue to be treated for undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy. Symptoms are usually chronic and regular, but are not severe. Treatment involves conservative medication, plus pain management techniques including plenty of rest, regular exercise, and energy conservation techniques.

Receiving this diagnosis may be frustrating, but remember that accurate medical management of arthritis takes time and patience. For more information on spondyloarthropathy and the spondylitis family of arthritic diseases, visit the Spondylitis Association of America at

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