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Physical therapy for ankylosing spondylitis

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. AS produces inflammation between the vertebrae and in some cases can cause the vertebrae to fuse together over time. Most early-stage AS sufferers experience pain, stiffness, and mobility problems in the back. Some patients experience more chronic and persistent discomfort than others.

AS tends to affect men more often than women, and the condition typically begins in early adulthood. While an exact cause is unknown, the condition frequently runs in families. There is no known cure, however a healthy lifestyle and certain treatments can help to slow the disease’s progression and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Source: Medline Plus

Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms

No two AS patients experience the same set of symptoms, and these tend to vary widely from one patient to the next. Although the most common early symptoms of AS are pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks, patients may also experience discomfort on one side, both sides, or alternating sides.

In the early stages of the disease, pain tends to come and go; as the disease progresses, this pain tends to become chronic. Over time, it can spread up into the spine and neck. Some patients experience inflammation and pain in the ribs, shoulder blades, hips, thighs, and heels. Chronic inflammation can also result in fatigue or mild to moderate anemia.

The most common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the low back and buttocks
  • Pain and stiffness in the spine and neck
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia

Source: Spondylitis Association of America

What causes ankylosing spondylitis?

The precise causes of AS remain unknown, however it is often considered to be a hereditary condition given that a majority of patients have one or more family members with AS.

Researchers have identified an antigen called HLA-B27 that is linked to AS. However not all patients with the HLA-B27 antigen go on to develop AS, and about 10 percent of AS patients do not have the antigen. Researchers suspect that the HLA-B27 antigen may somehow assist bacteria in attacking the body, causing AS.

The most common causes of ankylosing spondylitis include:

  • A family member with AS
  • The presence of the HLA-B27 antigen
  • Gender
  • Advanced age

Source: SpineUniverse

Physical therapy for ankylosing spondylitis

Because there is no known cure for AS, physical therapy is the first line of treatment for the condition. With the help of a physical therapist, patients with AS can improve their posture and mobility, reduce pain and discomfort, and perform everyday activities more easily.

Most physical therapy programs for AS include a combination of postural training, strengthening exercises, stretching, breath training, and pain management techniques. Through regular physical therapy, patients with AS can slow the disease’s progression and improve their quality of life.

Source: Move Forward PT

Luna’s physical therapists treat patients
with ankylosing spondylitis

Luna’s physical therapists specialize in treating patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. Our PTs can help patients slow or halt the progression of their disease, reducing daily discomfort and improving mobility. With proven techniques, our licensed PTs develop exercise and stretching routines that are safe, healthy, and comfortable for AS patients.

Best of all, with Luna, patients with AS can order physical therapy sessions right from their phone. Our therapists will come to you. Physical therapy has never been this convenient. It’s physical therapy, delivered.

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