Background and Purpose. Patients with inflammatory spinal conditions related to spondylarthritis are rarely seen by primary care practitioners. However, patients with a history of inflammatory bowel disease and chronic low back or buttock pain should be examined carefully for the presence of spondylarthritis, as proper management may include referral to a rheumatologist and appropriate medical intervention. Case Description. A 27-year-old woman with a 6-month history of posterior buttock pain was referred for physical therapy with a diagnosis of piriformis syndrome. During the second physical therapy visit, a nonmechanical source of lumbopelvic pain was suspected, and the patient was referred for medical consultation. The patient underwent evaluation by a rheumatologist and was eventually diagnosed with spondylarthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease. Outcomes. The patient initiated treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor medication to address the spondylarthritis. Medical management resulted in significant improvement in all outcome measures. Discussion. Clinical suspicion of spondylarthritis is raised when specific historical, examination, and imaging findings are present. The posttest probability of spondylarthritis is increased with the presence of inflammatory back pain and specific spondyloarthritic features, such as a positive history of inflammatory bowel disease, radiographic evidence of sacroiliitis, and improvement with anti-inflammatory medication. Referral of patients with these findings for a rheumatological evaluation is warranted, as these diseases are managed effectively with specific treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation