What is non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis?
Non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the spine, which leads to lower back pain, morning stiffness, fatigue, and difficulty to carry out daily activities. Other areas, such as the chest, hip bone, and buttocks, can also be affected. Although patients do have symptoms, x-rays are unable to detect clear evidence of joint damage, but evidence of joint inflammation may appear on an MRI.
Signs and symptoms of nr-axSpA include:
- Morning back pain and stiffness
- Spinal inflammation
- Pain in lower back and hips
- Reduced physical function
- Less mobility
What makes nr-axSpA different from back pain?
- Common back pain is typically caused by injury or overuse and usually goes away after 6 weeks; any longer and it may be something more serious
- nr-axSpA is a type of chronic, inflammatory back pain
- nr-axSpA is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints, mainly in the spine
- Symptoms may last for 3 months or longer, and can come and go
- Although nr-axSpA is a lifelong condition, there are many ways to manage it
What makes nr-axSpA different from AS?
Both nr-axSpA and AS are chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases that affect the spine with some notable differences:
- With AS, joint damage is clearly visible on an x-ray, but with nr-axSpA it’s not
- AS typically impacts more men than women, and while it tends to affect men in the lower back and buttocks, women are more affected in the hips, neck, shoulders and knees.
- With nr-axSpA, women typically have more widespread pain that can contribute to a delayed diagnosis compared to men