I have been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis – What is it?

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is when inflammation occurs on the entheses of the spine, which includes; ligaments, tendons and joint capsules. The condition occurs with general inflammation in these areas over several years, which may cause pain and discomfort. If the condition is not treated early, this can progress to becoming a debilitating condition. Mostly people remain fully functional with this condition, although exercise is beneficial in reducing inflammatory and increasing mobility.

There are 4 stages of AS development:

  • 1 – Suspicious
  • 2 – Sclerosis, some erosion
  • 3 – Severe erosion
  • 4 – Complete ankylosis

The early signs of AS (Stage 1-2) include; lesions, and concavity of the anterior and posterior borders of the vertebrae. AS becomes severe if the healing process of the entheses is affected over time, which may cause spinal fusion, and calcification of ligaments (Stage 3-4). This can be uncomfortable for many people as the range of motion of the area is limited, and every day positions such as standing, sitting and laying down become painful. AS can occur in multiple areas of the body, including; shoulders, hips, heels, and neck.

Exercise, postural training and stretching are a great form of treatment for AS, as this restores mobility and may increase quality of life. Exercises completed at home or in the gym are both beneficial, depending on your situation. Exercises and movement are particularly important in the morning as your body may feel “stiff” from laying down for several hours. Also, spreading out exercise and stretching routine throughout the day may relieve pressure on your spine, and help maintain good movement and posture. A good way to start at work is to take regular postural breaks, for example go for a small walk around your office every hour to help relieve tightness.

The main aim of AS is to maintain movement and function as well as relieving pain and stiffness through exercise. An Exercise Physiologist can help tailoring exercise and stretches towards your condition and capabilities. We can help increase your quality of life while living with this condition. If you require further information and assistance about this condition, please contact Absolute Balance via email: info@absolutebalance.com.au or visit our website: www.absolutebalance.com.au

Emma Tutty (B.Sc. – Sports, Grad Dip.Exercise Physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)

 

References

Lukas, C., Landewe, R., Sieper, J., Dougados, M., Davis, J., & Braun, J. Development of an ASAS-endorsed disease activity score (ASDAS) in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. (2009). Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 68(1), 18-24. Retrieved from: www.scholar.google.com.au

Spondylitis Association of America. (n.d). Exercise and Posture. Retrieved from: https://www.spondylitis.org/Exercise-Posture

Spondylitis Association of America. (n.d). Possible Complications. Retrieved from: https://www.spondylitis.org/Possible-Complications

Wenker, K. J., & Quint, J. M. Ankylosing Spondylolysis. (2017). Europe PMC. Retrieved from: http://europepmc.org/books/NBK470173