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What is spondylitis?

Spondylitis is the umbrella term used to describe several chronic arthritis-based conditions that cause pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine’s facet joints. If left untreated, spondylitis can cause the facet joints to wear down to the point that the affected vertebrae fuse together, leading to spinal deformity and potentially debilitating pain.

How is spondylitis diagnosed?

Only about 200,000 individuals are affected by spondylitis every year, potentially making it difficult to diagnose. It is therefore important for patients with unexplained neck or back pain to promptly schedule an appointment with a physician who can provide an accurate diagnosis. Usually, the diagnostic process for spondylitis consists of an open discussion with your physician about your symptoms and medical history, a physical exam and some sort of medical imaging test such as an MRI, CT scan or X-ray.

What causes spondylitis?

Spondylitis can develop due to a number of other conditions and diseases, some of which include ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, spinal infection, tuberculosis, and ulcerative colitis. Additionally, genetics are believed to play a role in the development of spondylitis, as those with a family history of the condition or those with the presence of the HLA-B27 gene are both indicators that spondylitis may develop.

What are the symptoms of spondylitis?

Most of the symptoms of spondylitis occur in the spine itself. Based on the cause and severity of their condition, individuals with spondylitis may experience chronic pain, reduced range of motion, stiffness, abnormal curvature of the spine or decreased mobility. Additionally, there are several symptoms of spondylitis that are not related to the spine. These include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and inflammation in the eyes.

How is spondylitis treated?

Although there is currently no cure for spondylitis, most patients with the condition are able to find relief through a combination of conservative treatments. Prescription medication, physical therapy, exercise, stretching, epidural steroid injections and lifestyle changes have all proven effective in helping patients manage the pain associated with spondylitis.

Do I need surgery for spondylitis?

If several weeks or months pass and you still have not responded to conservative treatment for spondylitis, your physician may recommend surgery to provide you with more meaningful relief. Laser Spine Institute does not treat ankylosing spondylitis, but our team will be glad to help patients find the most appropriate conservative or surgical treatment options to help relieve some of the pain associated with spondylitis. If you live in the Tampa, Florida, area and would like information regarding your condition, contact Laser Spine Institute today.