What is peripheral spondyloarthritis?

Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a term used to describe a group of diseases that cause inflammatory arthritis, primarily in your spine. This group differs from other forms of arthritis in that it arises from where tendons and ligaments attach to bones, as well as where bone meets bone.

Spondyloarthritis is classified into two categories:

  • Peripheral spondyloarthritis (pSpA) – includes a further four sub-categories.
  • Axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA) – non-radiographic axSpA and radiographic axSpA (or ankylosing spondylitis).

Axial spondyloarthritis mainly affects the spine and pelvic joints, while peripheral spondyloarthritis usually affects the arms and legs.

Peripheral spondolyarthritis

Axial spondyloarthritis mainly targets your spine and pelvic joints, where peripheral spondyloarthritis is more commonly found in your arms and legs.

What are the subcategories of peripheral spondyloarthritis?

Peripheral spondyloarthritis has four types:

  • Enteropathic arthritis (EnA) – inflammation of the spine, limb joints and bowel. Usually results in inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
  • Reactive arthritis (ReA) – a temporary illness caused by an infection, such as a urinary tract infection.
  • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) – inflammation of the small joints in the hands and feet, usually associated with a rash.
  • Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis (USpA) – people who have all the symptoms of spondyloarthritis however don’t clearly fit into any one category or type.

What are the causes of peripheral spondyloarthritis?

The exact cause of pSpA remains elusive. Research has found a link between the HLA-B27 gene and pSpA, with 80%–95% of those diagnosed with pSpA carrying this specific gene. However, it is important to note that many individuals who have this gene don’t suffer from arthritis.

A trigger is required to activate the gene. Research has yet to find conclusive answers about what triggers the gene; however, potential triggers are currently being investigated. These are:

  • Mechanical strain on your back.
  • Dysbiosis – an imbalance of natural gut microbes. This has been identified as the root cause of various chronic inflammatory diseases, such as bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

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What are the signs and symptoms of peripheral spondyloarthritis?

pSpA mainly causes inflammation of the tendons and joints in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, and feet. This results in pain, swelling, and sometimes early morning stiffness in the affected joints. Details such as these can help determine if you have peripheral or axial spondyloarthritis. In addition, depending on the sub-category, you may have further symptoms.

  • Enteropathic arthritis can cause weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and bloody bowel motions.
  • ReA is a temporary arthritis, resolving in three to twelve months. An infection such as a urinary tract or intestinal infection lead to short-term arthritis causing inflammatory eye disease, or inflammation of the joints, skin, mucous membranes or genitals.
  • PsA usually produces symptoms of a skin rash and inflammation and pain in the small joints of feet and hands.
  • Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis usually borrows symptoms from all the different types of SpA, but not all from one particular type.

Aside from the tender joints in your arms and legs, this type of inflammatory arthritis is associated with other symptoms, depending on which sub-type you have.

How is Peripheral Spondyloarthritis diagnosed?

Diagnosing pSpA can be challenging, as the symptoms can be similar to those of many other types of inflammatory autoimmune diseases.

It is usually a process of elimination, using an in-depth physical examination, your medical history and presenting symptoms and various tests to form a diagnosis of pSpA.

What is the treatment for Peripheral Spondyloarthritis in Brisbane?

Your Rheumatologist will personalise your treatment plan based on your specific symptoms, the type of pSpA you have, and the severity of your condition. It is impossible to predict which treatment will be most effective for you; therefore, we may need to try multiple options before discovering the right one for you.
  • Physiotherapy exercises to maintain spinal flexibility and improve posture.
  • Medications such as,
    • analgesics (pain relievers) like paracetamol,
    • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
    • corticosteroids,
    • disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), or biological DMARDs.

How much does treatment cost for
Peripheral Spondyloarthritis in Brisbane?

The cost of treatment for pSpA can vary depending on the individual’s needs and the type of treatment required. Our Frequently Asked Questions page on our website will give you up-to-date information on our prices for initial consultations and follow-up reviews, as well as any Medicare rebates you may be entitled to.

Why choose ArthritisCARE for your Peripheral Spondyloarthritis treatment?

ArthritisCARE Rheumatologists

At ArthritisCARE, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality care for patients with pSpA. Our team of medical professionals has extensive experience in managing this condition, and we use the latest technology and treatment options to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients. We believe in a personalised and compassionate approach to care, and we work closely with each patient to develop an individualised treatment plan that meets their unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your condition.

Meet Dr. Peter Landsberg

At ArthritisCARE, our team is led by founder Dr. Peter Landsberg, who has brought together a group of Rheumatologists and support staff that are highly skilled, compassionate and dedicated to providing holistic care to all patients. Dr. Landsberg has a special interest in the management of inflammatory arthritis, rheumatic diseases, ankylosing spondylitis and connective tissue diseases. He is committed to improving the quality of life for his patients by alleviating pain and providing expert care.

The ArthritisCARE team of rheumatoid specialists in Brisbane has many years of experience and offers you a choice of both male and female Rheumatologists in Brisbane. Our goal is to ensure that you feel comfortable working with us so that we can collaboratively treat your condition and significantly improve the way you feel. Each and every day.

Avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort. Contact us to set up an appointment for a comprehensive, expert medical review.

How to contact us

Find a Peripheral Spondyloarthritis specialist near me:


You can find all the commonly asked questions about pSpA below:

Peripheral spondyloarthritis can cause pain and stiffness in the joints, especially those in the arms and legs. Other symptoms will depend on which subtype of pSpA you have been diagnosed with.

Treatment for pSpA typically involves a combination of medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Physiotherapy and light exercise help to maintain overall health and spinal flexibility. While medications help with pain, inflammation, and controlling your symptoms and disease progress.

Medications used to treat peripheral spondyloarthritis may include analgesics (such as paracetamol), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologics.

There is no specific diet for pSpA, but some people find that avoiding certain foods, such as processed and high-fat foods, can help reduce inflammation in the body. In addition, if you have inflammatory bowel disease you will find there are certain foods that worsen your symptoms.

Yes, exercise can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints and improve overall mobility in people with pSpA. Low-impact exercises, such as swimming and walking, are often recommended.

If left untreated, peripheral spondyloarthritis can lead to joint damage and decreased mobility. It can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.

There is no specific test for pSpA; rather, it is a process of elimination. Rheumatologists, or other specialists and doctors, should rule out other diseases that may be causing your symptoms until we are left with the diagnosis of pSpA.

People with pSpA can live well by managing their symptoms through a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. It is also important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Yes, pSpA is considered an autoimmune disease, as it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. In addition, it is strongly associated with the HLA-B27 gene, and most autoimmune diseases are linked to HLA types.

The prognosis for pSpA varies depending on the sub-type, the individual, and the severity of their symptoms. With proper treatment and management, most people with pSpA can lead full and active lives.

The progression of pSpA can vary widely from person to person. Some people may experience rapid progression, while others may have a slower course of the disease.

pSpA affects the joints in the arms and legs, while ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the joints in the spine and pelvis.

Axial spondyloarthritis primarily affects the joints in the spine and pelvis, while peripheral spondyloarthritis affects the joints in the arms and legs. Both types of spondyloarthritis share many similarities in terms of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, but they are distinct subtypes of the disease.

Learn more about spondyloarthritis

Arthritis Australia’s spondyloarthritis Resources

Information Sheet: Spondyloarthritis by Arthritis Australia

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