Recent advances in the treatment of the spondyloarthropathies

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Recently, there has been renewed interest in the spondyloarthropathy family of chronic inflammatory rheumatic conditions, which has been fueled to a large extent by the biologic era. Over the period of the past 2 years in particular, there have been several notable advances. First, there have been a number of large, high-quality randomized controlled trials evaluating the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers and conservative treatments such as physiotherapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for use in spondyloarthropathy. This has paved the way for the development of better tools to assess outcome in these patients both in daily practice and in the context of clinical trials. This review uses a systematic approach to outline the most recent (within the last 2 years) and the most pertinent advances in the treatments of the spondyloarthropathies, with particular emphasis on ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.

Recent findings

Supervised group exercise programs maintain flexibility and posture in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, and spa therapy is a cost-effective treatment option in ankylosing spondylitis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have a role in symptom modification and, more importantly, may prevent structural disease progression in patients with ankylosing spondylitis when administered continuously at a fixed dose. TNF blockers have been evaluated in a number of randomized controlled trials in ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis and have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in the short-term management of these diseases. Longer-term trials are awaited with radiographic outcomes to comment on their disease-modifying properties and their long-term safety and efficacy profiles.

Summary

There has been renewed interest in the spondyloarthropathy family of disorders, with an explosion in the number of trials evaluating outcome with the TNF blockers. To date, no cure has been found for the disease, but these agents are emerging as the best therapeutic option available for patients with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis to date.

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