Areas of the body


Axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) can affect many different areas of the body. While everybody’s experience of axSpA is different, below are some of the areas of the body that are commonly affected. Refer to the individual information resources linked below for more information on each area.


Neck pain is pain that is felt in the upper part of the spine. Neck pain may be one of the first signs of axSpA. Neck pain due to axSpA usually feels worse in the morning, after rest and better when your moving.  You may have neck pain that is not related to your axSpA. If you feel pain and stiffness in your neck, work with your healthcare team to find out whether it is related to your axSpA  and ways to help manage your pain.


Pain that is felt in the shoulder area, at the top of the arm, is common and may be due to axSpA, especially if you have had it for a number of years. Usually, people have pain when moving the shoulder and, for some people, this may only be with certain movements. However, we use our shoulder joint for a large number of day-to-day activities so you may need to find new ways to do things. Try and stay active, as maintaining the movement and strength in your shoulder will help with the pain.


Swelling and stiffness in the joints of the lower back or the joints at the bottom of the spine, just above the buttocks is one of the first signs of axSpA. Staying active will help you effectively manage your axSpA and prevent more problems. Work with your healthcare team to manage your pain and develop an exercise program that works for you.

Wrists and hands 

Any joint in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists can be affected by axSpA, causing joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Aids and equipment that can take pressure of the joints of your hands and wrists and make everyday tasks easier.


If your hip is affected by axSpA you may feel pain in your groin, thighs or lower back. Sometimes your pain may also be felt in your knees, especially when standing or moving. Weight loss, exercise, medicines, aids,  supports and heat and cold therapy can all help you manage your hip pain.


Knees can be affected by axSpA. Knees are weight bearing joints so, weight loss and exercise can help to reduce the pressure on the joints and keep the muscles around the joint strong. Your healthcare team can also help you with other pain management techniques such as medicines, heat or ice packs or talk to you rheumatologist about what aids or supports might help.

Ankles and feets

Any joint in your ankles, feet and toes can be affected by axSpA.  A condition, known as enthesitis (inflammation of the point that tendons and ligaments attach to the bone) affect people with axSpA. Commonly affecting the Achilles tendon or the plantar fascia underneath the foot. If you have enthesitis your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist or a podiatrist, someone who specialises in feet.