SAPHO Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

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SAPHO syndrome facts

  • SAPHO syndrome is a chronic disorder that involves the skin, bone, and joints.
  • SAPHO is an acronym for the combination of synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, and osteitis.
  • Some researchers feel that the SAPHO syndrome is related to the group of arthritis conditions which typically affect the spine, called the spondyloarthropathies.
  • Treatment of SAPHO syndrome typically involves medications which reduce inflammation.

What is SAPHO syndrome?

SAPHO syndrome is a chronic disorder that involves the skin, bone, and joints. SAPHO is an acronym for the combination of synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, and osteitis.

Synovitis means inflammation of the joint lining (synovium). Typically, this is manifests as warmth, tenderness, pain, swelling, and stiffness of involved joints (arthritis).

Acne is a skin condition featuring tiny areas of inflammation with pus formation at the hair follicles. Acne occurs most commonly on the face and upper back.

Pustulosis is a very inflammatory skin condition resulting in large fluid-filled blister-like areas (pustules), typically on the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet. The skin of these areas peels and flakes (exfoliates).

Hyperostosis means abnormal excessive growth of bone. The hyperostosis of the SAPHO syndrome frequently is located at the points of the bone where tendons attach, generally in the chest wall.

Osteitis means inflammation of the bone. Patients with SAPHO syndrome can develop inflammation of the sacroiliac joints (sacroiliitis) as well as inflammation of the spine (spondylitis) which leads to stiffness and pain of the neck and back.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015
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