Purpose of review
The field of spondyloarthritis (SpA) has evolved enormously over the last few years, starting with the advent of biological therapies at the end of the previous millenium. A lot of work has been done to construct valid outcome measures and treatment guidelines based upon the results of pivotal studies with Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking agents. Most of these trials were performed in well described populations, such as patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (AS) or psoriatic arthritis.
Over recent years a reappraisal has been done with regard to considering again the full spectrum of diseases belonging to the SpA concept, especially in early disease stages. This effort culminated in the construction of new classification criteria for axial and peripheral SpA. Around the same time, a number of patient registries were set up, allowing the follow-up of patients in order to study the natural evolution of patients classified early. The first data from these cohorts provide interesting information on peripheral joint manifestations such as arthritis, enthesitis or dactylitis. Recognition and monitoring of these manifestations are essential for clinicians in order to provide comprehensive patient care.
There is a growing interest in the field of SpA to move from rather restricted and longstanding diseases such as AS to a more comprehensive view, encompassing not only inflammatory back pain, but also peripheral arthritis and enthesitis, as well as extra-articular manifestations. The new classification criteria and guidelines for follow-up are applied now in a number of prospective patient registries, and provide us with valuable information on the early disease stages of SpA.