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Ankylosing Spondylitis

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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Introduction

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a long-term condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed. It is one of a group of conditions known as Axial Spondyloarthritis, in which the main symptom is back pain.

 

AS tends to first become symptomatic in teenagers and young adults and is approximately twice as common in men than in women.

Symptoms

  • Back pain which is typically worse when immobile/static and improves with movement.
  • Stiffness (particularly on waking).
  • Pain and swelling in other parts of the body.
  • Extreme tiredness

 

The symptoms can fluctuate, but can develop over months or years. In some people the condition gets better with time, but for others it can get slowly worse.

Cause

It’s not known what causes the condition, but there is a strong link to a particular gene known as HLAB-27.

Treatment & Management

You should see your GP if you have persistent symptoms of AS. If your GP thinks you may have the condition, they should refer you to a specialist in conditions affecting muscles and joints (rheumatologist) for further tests and any necessary treatment. Further tests may include blood tests and imaging tests.

 

There’s no cure for AS however, treatment is available to relieve the symptoms and help prevent or delay its progression, as well as learning to self-manage.

 

Physiotherapy for AS can consist of exercises to reduce pain and stiffness, as well as massage and mobilisation to improve comfort and spinal flexibility.

 

Your Physiotherapist will design an exercise regime specifically for your physical ability and needs. We advise consulting with your Physiotherapist prior to trying any of the exercises in the templates we have produced.

Additional Resources

https://nass.co.uk/ – further information regarding inflammatory back pain (axial spondyloarthritis) not exclusively AS.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Ankylosing-spondylitis

https://cks.nice.org.uk/ankylosing-spondylitis#!diagnosisSub

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