Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. It is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the vertebrae, leading to pain and stiffness in the back and neck. AS can also affect other joints, such as the hips, shoulders, and knees.
Early diagnosis and treatment of AS can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. In this article, we will discuss how Physical therapy is one of the most effective treatments for Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), as it can help reduce stiffness, improve posture and flexibility, and decrease pain.
What are the signs of ankylosing spondylitis?
The signs of AS usually develop gradually and can include:
- Back pain: This is the most common symptom, usually starting in the lower back and hips.
- Stiffness: This is especially noticeable in the morning and after periods of inactivity.
- Reduced flexibility: This can make it difficult to bend or twist the spine.
- Fatigue: This is a common symptom of many chronic inflammatory diseases.
- Eye inflammation: This can occur in up to 40% of people with AS.
- Joint pain: This can occur in other joints, such as the knees, ankles, and shoulders.
What are the causes of ankylosing spondylitis?
The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is not known, but genetic factors seem to play a role. People who have a gene called HLA-B27 are at a greater risk of developing AS. Other factors that could contribute to AS include gender, age, and family history.
What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy (PT) is a healthcare specialty that aims to ease pain and help individuals function, move, and live better. It is a non-invasive treatment that can be used to manage various health problems, such as injury, illness, or disability. PT involves the use of exercises, manual therapy, hydrotherapy, and other techniques to improve mobility, strength, and flexibility.
In the case of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), PT plays an important role in managing symptoms and preventing complications. AS is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints, causing pain and stiffness in the back and neck.
PT can help reduce stiffness, improve posture and flexibility, and decrease pain in AS patients. Different types of exercises, such as stretching, strengthening, cardiovascular exercise, spinal mobility exercise, and functional training, can be beneficial for AS patients. A physical therapist can help AS patients create an exercise plan that is specific to their needs.
Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), can also be used to manage symptoms of AS. Early diagnosis and treatment of AS can help manage symptoms and prevent complications.
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Benefits of physical therapy help Ankylosing spondylitis patients?
Physical therapy (PT) is a non-invasive treatment that can help manage various health problems, such as injury, illness, or disability. Here are some benefits of PT for AS patients:
- Reduced pain and stiffness: Physical therapy can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints and spine by promoting flexibility and strengthening the muscles that support the joints. This can be achieved through various exercises, including:
- Stretching: Gentle stretching exercises can help maintain flexibility in the spine and other joints, reducing the risk of joint fusion.
- Strengthening: Strengthening exercises, particularly for the core and back muscles, can help improve posture, support the spine, and reduce pain.
- Aerobic exercise: Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as swimming or walking, can help improve cardiovascular health and reduce fatigue.
- Improved mobility and function: Physical therapy can help individuals with AS maintain their independence and perform daily activities with greater ease. This can be achieved through:
- Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises help maintain the movement of the joints and prevent stiffness.
- Gait training: This can help improve walking patterns and reduce pain during movement.
- Balance exercises: These exercises can help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls.
- Improved posture: AS can lead to a hunched posture over time. Physical therapy can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine and teaching proper body mechanics.
- Reduced fatigue: Physical activity can help improve energy levels and reduce fatigue, which is a common symptom of AS.
Exercises for ankylosing spondylitis patients
Physical therapy is a common treatment used for ankylosing spondylitis (AS). It can help reduce pain, improve mobility, and minimize stiffness. Here are some exercises that can be beneficial for AS patients:
- Stretching: Stretching exercises can improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness, swelling, and pain. They also minimize the risk of fusion of the joints.
- Cardiovascular exercise: Exercises that increase the heart rate for an extended time, such as swimming or walking, improve lung and heart function, as well as boost the mood. They also reduce pain and fatigue.
- Spinal mobility exercise: Spinal mobility exercises help maintain your spine’s flexibility and help give you good posture.
- Functional training: Functional training involves exercises that mimic everyday movements, such as squatting, bending, and lifting. It can help improve balance, coordination, and strength.
- Strengthening: Strengthening exercises are key in supporting the core and maintaining overall muscle strength. Strong core and back muscles help support the spine, improving movement and posture and also reducing pain.
It’s important to note that different exercises work for different people, and it’s best to work with a physical therapist to create an exercise plan that is specific to your needs. A physical therapist can assess your needs determine your limitations, and guide you through the movements.
Can physical therapy improve mobility?
Yes, physical therapy can help improve mobility in individuals with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). AS is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints, causing pain and stiffness in the back and neck.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) doesn’t have to mean living with stiffness, pain, and limited mobility. Physical therapy (PT) can be a game-changer for AS patients, offering a powerful non-invasive way to manage symptoms and thrive.
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