Mild Fever and Spondyloarthritis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: January 2023

Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a group of inflammatory arthritis conditions. SpA is categorized as either axial (mainly in the back and spine) or peripheral (outside of the spine). Each person with SpA can have a different set of symptoms of the disease.1

People with SpA can have symptoms not just in the joints but also in other parts of the body. These are called extra-articular symptoms. Fever is one of the symptoms that may seem unrelated to axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) but may be connected.1

What is fever?

Fever is a condition in which your body temperature is above the normal range. Generally, a body temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever.2

Fever is usually caused by an infection, such as a cold or the flu. In some cases, fever can be a sign of a more serious condition. Mild fever also can happen with long-term (chronic) inflammation, which occurs with axSpA.2,3

Symptoms of fever can include:2

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite

In some cases, fever can also cause dehydration. If you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids and rest. If your fever is higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, call your doctor.2

Why does fever happen with axial spondyloarthritis?

Your immune system protects your body from germs and diseases. It is responsible for bringing healing cells to an area of the body to fight off an infection, injury, or other problem.4

Your body's internal temperature control (thermostat) is managed by the hypothalamus in your brain. Normally, your thermostat is regulated to keep your body temperature within a very small range. But when your immune system is fighting an infection or other condition, the hypothalamus resets the thermostat to a higher temperature. This process is what causes fever.5

Your increased body temperature can slow the growth of bacteria and viruses. It also helps your immune system work better to fight off infections. But if you have long-term inflammation, like that of axSpA, fever can happen when there is no infection. Your body is attempting to fight the condition over a long time.2-4

How is fever treated?

Most of the time, fever from axSpA is mild and does not require treatment. But because of how your body reacts to fever and inflammation, some actions might help you feel better. You can try:2,3

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Resting
  • Using a cool washcloth on your forehead
  • Taking ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if needed

If you have a fever and feel generally unwell, check in with your doctor. Infections and other conditions can be serious, and getting the treatment you need is important.2,3

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