Spondyloarthritis: Symptoms, Treatment Guidelines, Exercises and Diet Tips

    What is Spondyloarthritis?

    Spondyloarthritis is a term used for inflammatory diseases which cause different types of joint pains or arthritis. Spondyloarthritis can be classified as either axial or peripheral. The axial form affects mostly the pelvic joints and spine. The peripheral form affects the limbs. The condition may also cause inflammation in the eyes, gastrointestinal tract, and areas where ligaments and tendons attach to your bones. The most common type of spondyloarthritis is ankylosing spondylitis (AS). This type mainly impacts the joints of the spine. It may also affect other large joints in the body.

    Other types of spondyloarthritis are:

    • Reactive arthritis
    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Enteropathic arthritis
    • Juvenile enthesitis-related arthritis
    • Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis

    Spondyloarthritis Symptoms

    The main symptoms of spondyloarthritis are pain, stiffness, and swelling. Bone damage may also occur. Where you feel symptoms in the body depends on the type of spondyloarthritis you have.

    Ankylosing Spondylitis pain often starts in the buttocks and lower back. It may spread to the chest and neck. Tendons and ligaments may also be involved. In rare cases, AS will impact the heart and lungs.

    Enteropathic arthritis may cause pain in the spine, arms, and leg joints. It may also cause bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain due to inflammatory bowel disease.

    Juvenile arthritis often causes pain in the pelvis, hips, ankles, and knees. The condition may also cause fatigue.

    Psoriatic arthritis can impact the spine. When this happens, it’s known as psoriatic spondyloarthritis. It may also cause pain in the neck.

    Reactive arthritis may cause inflammation in the urinary tract, the joints, and the eyes. It can lead to inflammation of the spinal joints.

    Undifferentiated arthritis often causes symptoms similar to AS. This includes pain in the lower back, buttocks, and heels.

    Diagnosing Spondyloarthritis

    Early diagnosis is important to help manage symptoms and reduce your risk of complications or disability. Your doctor may suspect you have spondyloarthritis based on your symptoms, medical history, and a medical exam.

    The condition may be confirmed with:

    • X-rays of the sacroiliac joints in the pelvis
    • Magnetic resonance imaging
    • A blood test to check for the hla-b27 gene

    Spondyloarthritis Treatment Guidelines

    There’s no cure for spondyloarthritis. Treatment focuses on reducing pain, improving or maintaining mobility, and reducing your risk of complications.

    Although it may seem counterintuitive, regular movement is critical to manage discomfort associated with the condition.

    Treatment plans are individualized, but most will include:

    • Physical therapy
    • Low-impact exercise
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Corticosteroid injections
    • Antirheumatic drugs
    • TNF alpha-blocker drugs

    Antibiotics are used to treat an active bacterial infection present with reactive arthritis. Severe cases of spondyloarthritis may require surgery to treat bone destruction or cartilage damage.

    Smoking is a known cause of inflammation in the body. If you smoke, it’s important to stop. Your doctor can help you find a smoking cessation program that’s right for you.

    Exercises for Spondyloarthritis

    Here it should be mentioned that before starting any form of exercise of fitness program it is imperative to consult with the treating physician who can give best advice as to which exercise to do. Some of the exercises which can be useful for Spondyloarthritis are:

    • Flexibility Exercise for Spondyloarthritis: In order to improve the flexibility and mobility of the joints you can start by moving the joints as far as possible and do muscle stretches. Yoga can also be a helpful way to remain flexible.
    • Muscle Strengthening Exercise for Spondyloarthritis: If your muscles are strong then they will take much pressure away from the joints. To make the muscles strong, you can make use of dumbbells or light weights.
    • Fitness: If a person is fit and active then most of the body functions smoothly. To stay fit, you can perform daily exercises on a treadmill or elliptical machine. Even a brisk walk daily can be helpful.

    One can also practice some low impact exercises to stay not only fit but improve your overall condition. Some of these exercises are:

    • Brisk walking
    • Hydrotherapy or swimming
    • Strength training
    • Tai-Chi
    • Yoga
    • Pilates
    • Cycling
    • Dancing

    Spondyloarthritis Diet Tips

    There’s no specific diet for spondyloarthritis. Still, eating healthy is vital to your overall health and to help prevent weight gain. Excess weight puts extra pressure on your joints.

    Some foods and ingredients may cause inflammation and should be limited. These include:

    • Sugars
    • Fried foods
    • Saturated fats and transfats
    • Refined carbohydrates
    • Monosodium glutamate
    • Aspartame
    • Alcohol

    To help battle inflammation in your body, strive to eat a diet rich in:

    • A colorful variety of fruits and vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Fiber
    • Lean protein
    • Fatty fish

    Spondyloarthritis may cause bone thinning and osteoporosis, so it’s important to get enough calcium in your diet as well. The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society recommends getting 700 milligrams of calcium daily.

    Dairy products are a good source of calcium. Research indicates that dairy may cause inflammation in people allergic to lactose. If you’re lactose-sensitive, opt for plant-based sources of calcium instead, such as:

    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Legumes
    • Dried figs

    You can also get calcium from fortified orange juice. Spinach is high in calcium, but it’s also high in oxalates. Oxalates bind to calcium and prevent its absorption.


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