Axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the axial skeleton (spine and sacroiliac joints). Patients diagnosed with this condition may exhibit a combination of any of the following signs and symptoms: pain increasing with rest and improving with exercise; painful inflammation of tendons and ligaments, arthritis, sore red eyes (uveitis), IBD. There may be imaging evidence of inflammation on MRI, or damage to the pelvis (sacroiliac joints) seen on x-ray.
AxSpA is a progressive disease, if left undiagnosed and untreated, people with axSpA can progress to having some degree of spinal fusion/damage, known as ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
“For years, early diagnosis of axial spondyloarthritis has proved challenging, with no effective treatments. However, with advances in imaging technology, better diagnostic criteria and new treatments we now have the opportunity to improve patients' symptoms and avert long-term disability,” commented Dr Stefan Siebert, a Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology at the University of Glasgow and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. He added, “Although there is no cure for this condition, certolizumab represents a valuable additional treatment choice for a potentially debilitating disease. It is particularly encouraging to see the RAPID-axSpA data suggesting that patients can experience symptomatic improvements as early as one week, particularly when you consider this condition affects a lot of people under the age of 40 who are still active and working full time.”
Back pain is a common disorder; nearly everyone is affected by it at some time. In fact approximately 60‐80% of the UK population will report lower back pain at some point in their life and the treatment of back pain costs the NHS more than £1billion per year. For most people the pain or reduced mobility caused by this back pain is short lived and they soon return to normal activities regardless of any advice or treatment they receive. A small proportion, however, will have inflammatory back pain but because it’s difficult to diagnose (for example due to an inability to differentiate it from mechanical back pain, a lack of awareness among GPs and low use of the newer diagnostic tools) means that patients may be denied effective and timely management tools and treatments.