In addition to the well known osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis that a lot of people are aware of, there is another group of arthritic conditions known as spondyloarthropathies. Spondyloarthropathies compose of 4 different types of arthritic conditions; psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and enteropathic arthritis. Today we will be looking into two of these types of arthritis’ – reactive and psoriatic. One of the other fantastic physios has already written about ankylosing spondylitis and you can find that here.
Reactive arthritis is a form of arthritis that occurs after a person has had an infection in another part of their body, namely their stomach or a genital infection. The pain can begin in the large or small joints of the foot or wrist and is characterised by pain and heat in the joint. The pain will usually appear 7-14days after the infection began and is caused by the body having difficulty eliminating the bacteria from the body. This form of arthritis can cause other extra articular manifestations such as a rash, eye infections and heart problems. Unfortunately for this form of arthritis, physiotherapy won’t have much of an impact and medication in the form of anti-inflammatories and steroids are what you need.
Psoriatic arthritis is different to reactive arthritis as it is a disease which gradually onsets over time and causes both skin problems in the form of psoriasis and also a degenerative, erosive arthritis. People who have this form of arthritis tend to have multiple painful joints and can present with both swelling and stiffness. Psoriasis runs in families and if a person has a relative with the condition, then they have a higher likelihood of developing it themselves. Psoriatic arthritis is progressive in nature and causes multiple joints to break down over time leading to deformities and pain. Although physiotherapy can assist with the overall management of the condition in the form of helpful exercises and pain relief techniques, the mainstay of treatment is medication. There are multiple different medications available now that can slow the disease progression, prevent deformities, and assist significantly with pain relief.
To be diagnosed with any of the spondyloarthropathies you will need to see a rheumatologist to perform a number of investigations and to determine the right medications. However, if you have pain or stiffness in your joints a physiotherapist can help distinguish whether you have a more common form of arthritis such as osteoarthritis which is treated with physiotherapy or something less common that needs medical management.
If you have any aches or pains that your not sure about, come and see one of our fantastic physios here in the Sydney CBD to help guide you with your diagnosis and treatment.