Spondyloarthritis specialist Perth
If your GP has told you to see a rheumatologist or a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, then our clinic can help you create clarity about your condition, and plan the most suitable treatment. Below, we go over the conditions that are labelled as ‘spondyloarthritis’ as a group of conditions.
What is spondyloarthritis?
Spondyloarthritis is a group of conditions that are the specialist area of a rheumatologist, and that share common features:
- Spinal inflammation: The immune system attacks the joints in the spine and the pelvis to cause pain and stiffness. If unchecked, this inflammation which usually starts in the sacroiliac joints (where the base of the spine connects with your pelvis), spreads to the rest of the spine to cause damage and progressive stiffening.
- Arthritis: Joints such as the hips and shoulders, as well as knees and the knuckle joints of the hands and feet, may get inflamed causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. This can lead to permanent joint damage.
- Tendons, ligament, and bone inflammation: This is called enthesitis.
- Psoriasis: This is a chronic skin condition that causes red, scaly patches.
- Iritis: The immune system can attack the coloured part of your eye (iris) to cause pain, redness, and blurred vision. This can be a serious condition that can lead to blindness.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: The immune system may also inflame the small and large bowel. This inflammation may be diagnosed as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
Depending on how spondyloarthritis affects you, a specific diagnosis may be made such as:
- Non-radiographic Ankylosing Spondylitis (nr-AxSpA)
- Axial Spondyloarthritis (AxSpA)
- Peripheral Spondyloarthritis (pSpA)
- Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
- Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)
- Reactive Arthritis (ReA)
Patients from all around the Perth metro area and Western Australia use our services to get the specialist help they need, in case of arthritis problems. We will provide an accurate diagnosis and discuss your treatment, specific to your circumstances.
Spondyloarthritis symptoms | Perth rheumatologist
What are the symptoms?
Spondyloarthritis usually commences between the ages of 16 and 35.
The symptoms of spondyloarthritis are varied and can include:
- Gradual onset of pain and stiffness in the buttocks, back or neck
- Pain, and sometimes swelling in tendons, ligaments and bones.
- Stiffness, swelling and pain in joints such as ankles, knees, toes and fingers.
- Joint and spinal symptoms are worse with rest (so, especially in the morning) and improve with exercise.
- Fatigue and tiredness.
Spondyloarthritis causes | Perth rheumatologist
What causes spondyloarthritis?
There are a few misconceptions about arthritis. Spondyloarthritis is not the result of injury, work, or wear and tear but is an autoimmune disease. Normally, your immune system produces inflammation to help protect your body from infections. In this situation, it attacks the joint tissues and your spine. With spondyloarthritis, the cells of your immune system can now cause disease in your skin, bowel, eyes, and other organs.
Spondyloarthritis can run in families, and there are several genes that are associated with the condition. The most notable gene you may hear about is called HLA-B27.
Spondyloarthritis diagnosis | Perth rheumatologist
How do you diagnose it?
Spondyloarthritis in the spine comes on gradually, and it may take some time to be diagnosed. It is important to recognise the features of inflammatory back pain. These are:
- Starts before the age of 40
- Has been present for at least 3 months
- Has come on slowly over time
- Is worse in the mornings
- Causes stiffness in the mornings lasting for at least 30 minutes (stiffness is perhaps best described as the sort of aching you get the day after heavy exercise)
- Improves with activity, and is worse with rest
- Improves with anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen)
- Can wake people from sleep, often in the second half of the night
- Can often cause pain in the buttocks, but rarely pain shooting down the leg (sciatica)
If you have these symptoms or patterns, it is important that you see your GP for assessment and they can refer you to a rheumatologist. Your doctor will diagnose Spondyloarthritis based on your symptoms, a physical examination, and blood tests.
X-rays of your spine may be taken, but these tests can all be normal in the early stages.
If there is a suspicion of Spondyloarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis or Psoriatic Arthritis it is important to be referred to a Rheumatologist to confirm this diagnosis and start treatment early.
Murdoch Rheumatology has specific expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of Spondyloarthritis and our patients all over Perth and Western Australia choose our practice because of our extensive experience.
Spondyloarthritis treatments | Perth rheumatologist
What treatments are available for spondyloarthritis?
The reality is that there is no quick fix. Ankylosing spondylitis is a lifelong disease that does not yet have a cure. Whilst its severity can vary from person to person and even from day to day, overall it is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time.
The treatment of ankylosing spondylitis and the management of its symptoms involve a long-term partnership between the person with the disease, their GP, their rheumatologist, and their physiotherapist, and in some cases also other health professionals.
The broad aims of treatment are:
- Control the disease
- Relief of Symptoms
- Prevent complications
- Help maintain Function and minimise Disability
Medications that may be prescribed by a Rheumatologist include:
- Analgesics (pain relievers, such as paracetamol)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroid medicines or injections
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biological DMARDs.
Depending on your diagnosis, we will work with you and the other specialists to work out the most suitable treatment for you. If you have any questions or you want to book an appointment, please contact our practice and we look forward to helping you.
Spondyloarthritis Murdoch Rheumatology
Why Murdoch Rheumatology for spondyloarthritis?
Dr Andrew Taylor at Murdoch Rheumatology understands your concern when you are looking for the best treatment solutions. His mission is to use the scientific and medical expertise accumulated over the years, and give you an excellent and professional care experience.
We all know that getting an accurate and correct diagnosis is where it all starts. After that, it’s Dr Taylor’s mission to care for your health, your quality of life and to minimise the impact a condition has on your life. Dr Taylor is here to help you live as normally as possible, so you can enjoy work, family life or the activities that you love.