Spondylitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Spondylitis is an inflammation of the vertebra and the joints in the spine that can cause pain, stiffness, and limited movement. It is seen in people with inflammatory arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that is most common in young people aged 20 to 40. It causes inflammation in the joints of the spine, which can lead to new bone formation and eventual fusion of the spine.

Spondylitis is caused by an autoimmune reaction in the body. The body’s immune system attacks its own joint tissues, resulting in joint inflammation. In some cases, the inflammation can spread to the spinal discs and vertebral ligaments. This can lead to the vertebrae becoming fused together in an exaggerated form known as ankylosis. Spondylitis can also affect other parts of the body, including elbows, knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. It can also cause eye irritation, heart valve inflammation, and lung inflammation.

Symptoms of Spondylitis

The most common symptom of spondylitis is chronic pain and stiffness in the spine, shoulder blades, or buttocks. Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased flexibility in the spine
  • Restricted movement of the spine
  • A hunched posture in the upper back
  • Pain that is worse in the morning or after resting
  • Pain that is better with movement or exercise
  • Difficulty standing up straight
  • Eye irritation or redness

Treating Spondylitis

There is no cure for spondylitis, but the condition can be managed with the help of medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. The most common medications prescribed for spondylitis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications can help reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy can help improve posture and prevent the formation of new bone in the spine.

Patients with spondylitis should also make lifestyle changes to manage their condition. Regular exercise is important for reducing pain and stiffness. Stretching and low-impact activities such as swimming or yoga can help improve flexibility and range of motion. Patients should also maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on the joints. Finally, it is important to get enough rest and manage stress levels to reduce flare-ups of the condition.

Prevention of Spondylitis

Spondylitis cannot be prevented, but there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce joint inflammation. Quitting smoking (if applicable) can also help reduce inflammation. Additionally, eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and proteins can reduce inflammation. Finally, it is important to minimize stress and get plenty of sleep to reduce flare-ups of spondylitis.