Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
• Males more likely than Females
• Most commonly occurs in those in their late twenties but can occur as late as 45yrs of age
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a condition which causes pain and inflammation in joints, primarily in the joints of the spine. The term ankylosing means fusion of 2 bones, and the term spondylitis means inflammation of the spine joints. Hence this condition commonly causes permanent stiffening of the spine over time. Inflammation of the bones that make up joints (such as the spinal vertebrae) will overtime cause new bone growth around these joints, resulting in fusion of 2 bones into 1, thus causing stiffness and lack of mobility.
The exact cause of AS is still unknown, however there appears to be a strong genetic link. Persons who carry the HLA-B27 gene appear to be at a much greater risk of suffering from AS, than those without. Being a carrier however does not necessarily mean a person will get AS, as studies have shown only 1 in 8 persons who carry the gene get AS.
AS will be diagnosed by your doctor, through both blood tests and medical scans, such as x-rays or MRIs. If these results appear positive your GP will refer you on to a Rheumatologist who specialise in these types of conditions.
Medications are usually prescribed to help control inflammation and reduce pain within the spine and other affected joints. In conjunction with this a physiotherapist will further help pain relief through treatment techniques such as heat, dry needling, and soft tissue release.
Once pain has been effectively reduced and inflammation controlled, your physiotherapist will then being to restore normal joint range of motion. Maintaining normal joint mobility and range is essential in preventing stiffness of the spinal joints. Postural correction and muscle strengthening will also play an important role in regaining full movement and then maintaining it.
In summary, once diagnosed with AS, physiotherapy will play a vital role in long term health and preventing worsening of symptoms associated with AS. Depending on the severity of your condition and which joints are primarily affected, your Move Forward physiotherapist will provided you with a detailed outline of your own individualized treatment management plan. Your treatment may include a combination of the following;
• Ice/ Heat
• Brace/ off-load taping
• Soft tissue massage
• Dry needling
• Stretching & strengthening exercises, which can be performed within the gym located at Move Forward Hillarys Physiotherapy
• Activity and exercise modifications to improve lower limb mechanics and posture, which can be performed within our pilates studio at Move Forward Quinns Physiotherapy or Jindalee Physiotherapy