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What is spondylitis as described by the spine care experts at Laser Spine Institute St. Louis

Spondylitis is a spine condition that causes inflammation within the joints and vertebrae. While this condition can sometimes only lead to painful stiffness in the neck or back, other times it may cause the vertebrae of the spine to fuse together, resulting in partial paralysis.

If you have been told you have spondylitis (a common form of this condition is ankylosing spondylitis), you should take the time to read through what you can expect to experience from this condition and the possible treatment options available to you. Once you have researched this condition, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss the next best steps to managing your condition.

Causes of spondylitis

Spondylitis has no known cause, though researchers have identified a few factors that may put someone at a higher risk of developing this condition. These risk factors merely increase the probability of someone developing this condition; they are not a definite indication.

The most particular risk factor for developing this condition is genetics. People who have the gene HLA-B27 — a gene commonly passed down through generations — are at the highest risk of having this condition. In addition to genetics, adolescent males are at a higher risk than females for developing ankylosing spondylitis. In some rare cases, this condition could be brought on by a severe spinal infection or spinal arthritis.

Symptoms of spondylitis

The symptoms of spondylitis are often associated with the inflammation and possible fusion of the vertebrae in the spine. While all patients are different, most people report a range of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness in the neck or back
  • Grinding noise during spinal movement
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sitting or standing

In the event that you have ankylosing spondylitis — a different form of this condition — your symptoms can affect different areas of your body, such as:

  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Spinal fractures
  • Heart disruption

If you are experiencing these symptoms regularly and are unable to find relief from at-home treatments, talk to your doctor about the treatment options available to you to help you find relief.

Diagnosing spondylitis

Your doctor can diagnose spondylitis by performing a physical evaluation to test your range of motion and to locate your pain. During this exam, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, such as when they began and if there has been any significant change in your lifestyle prior to their development. Likely, your doctor will order an imaging test, such as an X-ray, MRI test or CT scan. This will allow your doctor to view the vertebrae of your spine to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Once your doctor diagnoses your condition, you can begin working together to find the best treatment options available for you.

Treatments for spondylitis

While there is no cure for spondylitis, there are some treatment methods that are often effective at reducing the symptoms of this condition. Sometimes, your treatment can begin conservatively, using methods like pain medication, physical therapy and back braces to help relieve the pressure on the spine. If these treatments are ineffective, or if your condition is severe, your doctor may recommend spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, including our St. Louis facility, we do not offer spine surgery to treat spondylitis. However, there are many facilities throughout the country that offer traditional open back surgery to help you find relief from this specific condition. For more information about this and other spine conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute today.