Spondylitis – Inflammatory Arthritis that Affects the Spine

Spondylitis refers to a group of inflammatory diseases that typically affect the vertebrae, facet joints, and spinal structures, and can lead to chronic pain and discomfort. Facet joints are the hinge-like connections linking the back of each vertebra. The chronic inflammation caused by spondylitis arthritis damages the facet cartilage, ligaments, and bone and ultimately leads to facet joint deterioration. Symptoms of spondylitis include discomfort, chronic pain, loss of motion, and stiffness. In extreme cases, the spinal bones fuse to each other.

Several Forms of Arthritis can Cause Multi Level Spondylitis

Multi Level Spondylitis can be classified as seropositive or seronegative.  Seropositive simply means that your rheumatoid factor blood test is positive. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a condition where rheumatoid factor is present in the blood. It is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system targets synovium, a thin layer of tissue that lines and lubricates the joints. The pathology of the disease process often leads to the destruction of articular cartilage and ankylosis (fusion) of the joints, including those found in the spine.

The family of seronegative spondylitis (meaning no rheumatoid factor in the blood) includes: Ankylosis Spondylitis (AS), Juvenile Spondyloarthopathy (JSpA), Psoriatic Arthritis (PA), Reactive Arthritis (ReA), Enteropathic Arthritis (EA), and Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy (USpA). Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine, although other joints can be affected. Advanced cases result in excessive bone growth and can lead to fusion of the sacroiliac joints and to a fused, fixed, and immobile spine. The hunchback deformity in a fused spine is referred to as kyphosis. Psoriatic arthritis (PA) affects 5-10% of patients with psoriasis of the skin and causes inflammation of the joints, and can also affect the spine. PA is most common among older adults. Spondylitis treatment options include exercises, physical therapy, medications, physical modalities such as heat, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, epidural cortisone injections, brace immobilization, and in severe cases, spinal surgery. Today in appropriately selected patients, minimally invasive surgery, including endoscopic procedures and possibly even laser spinal surgery, may provide safe and effective alternative options. The board certified physicians at New Jersey Spine Specialists have extensive experience with all forms of standard and advanced treatments for multi level spondylitis and other spinal problems. If you live in the New York Metropolitan area in towns like Maplewood, Glen Ridge or Morristown, please call or email New Jersey Spine Specialists today to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons near you. Let’s discuss what our state-of-the-art spinal treatments can do for you.

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