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What is spondyloarthritis?

What is spondyloarthritis?

Types of arthritis

There are many types of arthritis and spondyloarthritis is one of them.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a normal part of ageing. Joints become damaged over time because of the way they move. People sometimes call it 'wear and tear'.

Spondyloarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are types of inflammatory arthritis. This happens when the body's immune system – which is meant to keep us well by fighting infection – starts to cause inflammation in the joints and the area around them, causing damage. Why this happens is not fully understood, but research shows that it can run in families. Spondyloarthritis is a fairly new term; you might also see it called ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis or reactive arthritis.


There are 2 main types of spondyloarthritis:

  • Axial spondyloarthritis, which mainly causes pain and stiffness in the back.

  • Peripheral spondyloarthritis, which mainly causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the hands, feet, arms and legs.

Some people may experience both types of problems.

Other conditions increase a person's risk of developing spondyloarthritis. These include:

  • an itchy, scaly skin condition called psoriasis

  • inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)

  • certain infections, such as some stomach bugs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • a painful eye condition called uveitis.

Spondyloarthritis is more common in people who have a gene called HLA‑B27.

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