By Jackie Manning, ARNP, Strive! Health and Rehabilitation
Ankly what? This mouthful, ankylosing spondylitis, is a chronic condition that affects an estimated half a million sufferers. The illness is a form of inflammatory arthritis targeting the spine and causing chronic back pain. While unsure of the cause, some researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may contribute to the development. However, there is no concrete evidence of this, as other evidence points to an underlying systemic infection or bacteria. Most feel the onset of early symptoms between the ages of 17 and 45 years. Males are diagnosed two to three times more often than females and tend to have more severe symptoms.
Many patients report stiffness in the lower back, buttocks or sacroiliac joints, that gradually progresses to the upper back, chest, and neck areas. Unfortunately, the pain and stiffness only worsens after a long time of rest or inactivity, but the good news is that exercise can reduce the discomfort. Sometimes bones and joints of the spine can fuse together over time, causing even more stiffness and rigidity. Other joints, such as hips, shoulders, and knees may be affected, and because ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease, internal organs may end up feeling the brunt of the discomfort when all is said and done.
Conservative measures for treating the pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis, consist of NSAIDs like Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Prescription anti-inflammatories like Celebrex or Voltaren may work too.
Physical therapy provides many patients with relief. PT improves posture, range of motion and a notable reduction in pain. In fact, while medication provides pain relief and can even slow the progression of the illness, physical therapy is often considered a more efficient strategy in the long run. Physical therapy can help AS sufferers increase their strength and improve muscle flexibility and joint mobility.
At Strive, our physical therapists are prepared through education and clinical experience, to treat problems of the spine. Our therapists have treated those diagnosed with AS and have achieved extraordinary results. Call us today and let us help you get moving comfortably again!