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Spondylitis: Inflammation Of The Vertebrae

Spondylitis: Inflammation Of The Vertebrae
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back pain

Spondylitis is a form of arthritis affecting the spine. In spondylitis, the vertebrae – the bones in the spine – become inflamed, resulting in pain, stiffness and a myriad of other symptoms. Spondylitis is a common condition, with over 200,000 new cases every year in the US.

What Causes Spondylitis?

The exact cause of spondylitis is unknown, but it has been linked to the following factors:

  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Lack of exercise
  • Improper postures while sitting or standing for a long time

Types of Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a specific type of spondylitis in which the vertebrae inflammation is progressive and long-term, resulting in severely debilitating symptoms. If left untreated, the vertebrae can begin to fuse together, which reduces mobility in the spine and causes the individual to have a hunched back. Severe cases can even affect other systems in the body, including the cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal system.

Spondylitis Symptoms

  • Hunched or stooped back
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Back pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Limited range of motion
  • Eye inflammation


Diagnosing Spondylitis

A primary care physician can diagnose spondylitis, but may refer you to a rheumatologist to confirm and treat the condition. A physical exam can assess the pain and limited range of motion. An MRI of the spine is often most useful diagnostic test to diagnose spondylitis.

Treating Spondylitis

Anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy are the most common treatment methods for spondylitis. Lifestyle changes, like sleeping on a firm mattress and improving your posture can reduce the symptoms of spondylitis.

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