Sausage-like toe and heel pain: value for diagnosing and evaluating the severity of spondyloarthropathies defined by Amor’s criteria. A retrospective study in 161 patients

Aim: To evaluate the frequency of sausage-like toe and talalgia in spondyloarthropathies diagnosed by the 12 items of Amor’s criteria; to study the frequency of a diagnosis which would be impossible without these two symptoms; and to study the correlations between Amor’s criteria score and the clinical and biological symptoms in the presence of both of these.

Methods: Retrospective study of 161 cases (age, 38.8 +/- 13.1 years; duration, 7.12 +/- 7.3 years; HLA B27, 112). Peripheral involvement is observed in 89 cases (52 cases of pure peripheral form).

Results: Eighty cases (group N1) experience talalgia and/or sausage-like toe and 80 do not (group N2). Talalgia concerns 68 patients (42.2%) and sausage-like toe 37 (23.3%); both signs are present in 18. Age, duration, morning stiffness, SR, CRP are similar in both groups. Ankle involvement and oligoarthritis are significantly more frequent in group N1. In 17 cases the presence of talalgia or sausage-like toe are indispensable to the diagnosis (10.6%): 11 undetermined spondyloarthropathies, six psoriatic arthritis. In the N1 group, a positive correlation is present between the score of the 12 items and, respectively, morning stiffness (+ 0.69; P = 0.0001), SR (+ 0.6; P = 0.001 8), CRP (+ 0.59; P = 0.001 8) in patients with sausage-like toe, probably because of the associated oligoarthritis, but neither in patients with talalgia (N1) nor in patients of the group N2.

Conclusion: Talalgia and sausage-like toe are present respectively in 42.2 and 23.6% of spondyloarthropathies and are indispensable to the diagnosis using Amor’s criteria in 10.6% of cases. The sausage-like toe would indicate a more severe spondyloarthopathy because of the synovitis, even though talalgia (pure enthesopathy) does not reflect the inflammatory process.

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