Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MySpondylitisTeam

Spondylitis Types

Posted on August 16, 2018

Article written by
Kelly Crumrin

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ariel Teitel

There are many subtypes of spondylitis, which is also called spondyloarthritis. Spondylitis is diagnosed as a specific subtype depending on how advanced symptoms are, whether the spondylitis is related to another condition, or the age when the symptoms began.

Terminology used to describe types of spondylitis has changed in the past few years. The new terminology can help us view this family of diseases as a continuum and identify and treat spondylitis earlier. Ideally, before it progresses to the point when damage can be seen on X-rays — a stage known as ankylosing spondylitis.

Different treatments may be more effective for different types of spondylitis.

Umbrella Terms

Spondylitis and spondyloarthritis are umbrella terms for a family of closely related diseases that usually cause pain and damage in the spine, neck, ribs, and hips — known as the axial skeleton. Spondylitis involving the axial skeleton is called axial spondyloarthritis, or axSpA. Axial spondyloarthritis is further typed as either radiographic (visible on X-rays) or nonradiographic (not visible on X-rays). The older term for radiographic axSpA is ankylosing spondylitis. Cases of spondylitis that are radiographic are considered more severe and advanced than cases that are nonradiographic.

Spondylitis can affect other, peripheral joints and cause additional symptoms as well. All subtypes of spondylitis fit under the umbrella of spondylitis or spondyloarthritis, no matter what other terms or diagnoses may be involved.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

Also called radiographic axSpA, ankylosing spondylitis is an advanced form of axial spondyloarthritis that has caused new bone growth in the spine. AS may lead to vertebrae fusing into immobility. Ankylosing spondylitis is the most severe form of axSpA. Any type of spondylitis may progress into AS.

Enteropathic Arthritis (EnA)

Spondylitis associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, is known as enteropathic arthritis. People with EnA have bowel symptoms and joint symptoms.

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

PsA can cause inflammatory pain, swelling, and progressive damage in any joint in the body. Researchers estimate that between 15 percent and 30 percent of those with skin psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. It is possible to have psoriatic arthritis without skin psoriasis.

Reactive Arthritis (ReA)

In some people, a bacterial or viral infection triggers the immune system to begin attacking the joints. This type of spondylitis is known as reactive arthritis.

Undifferentiated Spondyloarthritis (USpA)

Some people develop a joint condition that has some symptoms and features of spondylitis, but in an atypical pattern. Doctors may not be convinced the condition is spondylitis at all. People with cases of spondylitis that are in question may be said to have undifferentiated spondyloarthritis. People with USpA may later develop symptoms that result in a diagnosis of another type of spondylitis or another condition altogether.

Juvenile Spondyloarthritis (JSpA)

Spondylitis that begins before age 16 is termed juvenile spondyloarthritis. JSpA is a rare condition. Researchers estimate that between 1 and 4 children in 1,000 develop juvenile spondyloarthritis. Children with JSpA may be further diagnosed as having a specific subtype, such as enthesitis-related arthritis (ERA), psoriatic arthritis, or undifferentiated arthritis.

Peripheral Spondyloarthritis (pSpA)

Spondylitis that affects other joints besides the spine is called peripheral spondyloarthritis. Peripheral spondyloarthritis may affect the shoulders, knees, elbows, ankles, wrists, hands, and feet. It is possible to have both axial (spine/hips) and peripheral spondyloarthritis. People with peripheral spondyloarthritis may have other subtypes of spondylitis as well.

Is Spondylosis a Type of Spondylitis?

Spondylosis is not a type of spondylitis, but a separate and unrelated condition with some similarities and some important differences. It is easy to confuse the conditions since they sound similar and share many symptoms. Read more about the similarities and differences between spondylitis and spondylosis.

Can You Have More Than One Type of Spondylitis?

If someone has spondylitis symptoms that fit multiple subtypes, they may be said to have more than one type of spondylitis. For instance, if someone had inflammatory spine and hip pain and inflammatory bowel disease, they could be diagnosed with enteropathic spondyloarthritis. If the same person developed inflammatory pain in peripheral joints such as their hands and feet, they could be said to have both EnA and pSpA.

For another example, if someone had a skin rash and joint inflammation in their hands and feet, they may initially be diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. If they developed spondylitis in their spine that began fusing the vertebrae together, the person may also be diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.

Condition Guide

References

  1. Overview of Types of Spondylitis — Spondylitis Association of America
  2. Axial spondyloarthritis — UCB
  3. Ankylosing Spondylitis — Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center
  4. Rheumatologists Make Progress Defining Spectrum of Axial Spondyloarthritis — The Rheumatologist
  5. Spondyloarthritis — American College of Rheumatology
  6. Ankylosing Spondylitis — Mayo Clinic

Kelly leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here.

Ariel Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Learn more about him here. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

A MySpondylitisTeam Member said:

Neck pain

posted 3 months ago

hug (1)

Recent articles

Spondylitis and neck pain
Article written by Max Mugambi Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an advanced form of axial...

Managing Ankylosing Spondylitis and Neck Pain

Article written by Max Mugambi Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an advanced form of axial...
Myspondylitisteam hero long journey
Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner According to a Clinical Rheumatology article on...

The Long Journey to a Correct Spondylitis Diagnosis

Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner According to a Clinical Rheumatology article on...
Myspondylitisteam hero seeking answers
Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner As many people with chronic health conditions will...

Seeking Answers: Many Doctor Visits Are Required Before a Spondylitis Diagnosis

Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner As many people with chronic health conditions will...
Myspondylitisteam carousel wish had known
Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner Diagnosis can provide a sense of relief to members,...

What People With Spondylitis Wish They Had Known Earlier

Article written by Heather Lapidus Glassner Diagnosis can provide a sense of relief to members,...
Myspondylitisteam carousel early signs
Article written by Annie Keller Early symptoms of spondyloarthritis are often overlooked, and it...

Early Signs and Symptoms of Spondyloarthritis

Article written by Annie Keller Early symptoms of spondyloarthritis are often overlooked, and it...
Myspondylitisteam carousel intense pain
Article written by Laurie Berger Nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis is an early form of...

Intense Pain, Invisible Damage: What X-Rays and MRI Can’t Reveal

Article written by Laurie Berger Nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis is an early form of...
Myspondylitisteam carousel diagnosed
Article written by Annie Keller Axial spondyloarthritis is usually diagnosed by a combination of...

How Is Axial Spondyloarthritis Diagnosed?

Article written by Annie Keller Axial spondyloarthritis is usually diagnosed by a combination of...
Myspondyteam 2of3 whenyourdoctorwontlisten contenthero
Article written by Laurie Berger As a woman with axial spondyloarthritis, getting a doctor to...

When Your Doctor Won’t Listen: Tips for Women With Spondyloarthritis

Article written by Laurie Berger As a woman with axial spondyloarthritis, getting a doctor to...
Myspondyteam 1of3 spondyinwomenvsmen contenthero
Article written by Nyaka MwanzaWomen and men with spondyloarthritis typically experience...

Spondyloarthritis in Women vs. Men: What Are the Differences?

Article written by Nyaka MwanzaWomen and men with spondyloarthritis typically experience...
Myspondyteam 3of3 isaxialspondylounderdiagnosedinwomen contenthero
Article written by Nyaka MwanzaAxial spondyloarthritis was long thought to be a man’s disease,...

Is Axial Spondyloarthritis Underdiagnosed in Women?

Article written by Nyaka MwanzaAxial spondyloarthritis was long thought to be a man’s disease,...
MySpondylitisTeam My spondylitis Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MySpondylitisTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with spondylitis. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about spondylitis sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MySpondylitisTeam My spondylitis Team

Thank you for signing up.

close