Spondyloarthritis

Spondyloarthritis is a name for types of arthritis that commonly affect the spine. There are several types of arthritis grouped under this name. The main types include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis - which causes inflammation of the joints in the spine
  • Psoriatic arthritis - related to the skin condition psoriasis
  • Reactive arthritis - develops in response to an infection
  • Enteropathic arthritis - related to inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis - a form of spondyloarthritis that does not fit into any of the above categories. 

Another name used for this group of conditions is spondylitis. Spondylitis means 'inflammation of the spine.' 

What are the symptoms?

Conditions that fall under the name of spondyloarthritis all have the following signs in common:

  • Inflammation of:
    • the spine and the joints that connect the base of your spine to your pelvis (sacroiliac joints). This may be felt as pain and stiffness in the buttocks, back and/or neck
    • joints in the legs and less commonly the arms, causing pain, stiffness and swelling
    • tendons (strong cords that connect muscles to bones) and ligaments (which connect bones to each other). This is often felt as pain in the back of the heel or underneath the foot
    • eyes, skin and other parts of the body


  • Seronegative - This refers to types of arthritis that test negative for rheumatoid factor in the blood. Rheumatoid factor is made by the body’s immune system and is found in people who have rheumatoid arthritis. It is found by doing a blood test.
  • Associated with a gene called HLA-B27.

How can spondyloarthritis be treated?

Before starting treatment, is important to see a rheumatologist to make sure you get the right diagnosis (find out more about working with your healthcare team). Your rheumatologist will then work with you to find the right treatment for your condition and symptoms. 

Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting which treatment will work best for each person. Your doctor might need to try different treatments before finding what works best for you. 

This may include:

Physiotherapy

  • Exercises to keep the spine flexible and improve posture. 

Medicines, such as:

  • analgesics (pain relievers such as paracetamol)
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • corticosteroid medicines or injections
  • disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • biological DMARDs.

Read more about these medications in our Medicines and Arthritis information sheet. 


Download our free information sheet - Spondyloarthritis


More information and support for spondyloarthritis


Order your free arthritis information pack


Register for Arthritis Assist to speak one-on-one with someone else living with arthritis. 


Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis. 


Call our free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak with a member of our health team.

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