Ankylosing Spondylitis

AS is a chronic inflamatory disease, and a form of arthritis that affects the spine. It happens when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. As the spine tries to heal, the vertebrae fuse together, causing stiffness, pain, and restriction of movement. The signs and symptoms of AS usually occur in adulthood, and can cause a forward flexed posture and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of AS

The severity of the symptoms varies for each individual. Some of the typical symptoms are:

  • Gradual onset of back pain and stiffness
  • Early-morning stiffness and pain, reducing during the day with movement
  • Pain lasting for more than 3 months
  • Weight loss
  • Exhaustion
  • Feverish and night sweats

“Physiotherapy and exercise can have a big effect on the outcome of your AS.” -Canadian Spondylitis Guidebook

You can manage AS by a combination of medication and exercise to reduce pain and inflammation.

Practical Advice

  • Keep good posture. Think tall all day!
  • Get a suitable chair. The seat shouldn’t be too long. Avoid low, soft chairs as it will encourage bad posture and increase pain.
  • Stand up, walk around, and stretch! Try not to sit for too long.
  • Reduce pain and stiffness by trying a hot bath or shower first thing in the morning or before bed.
  • Decrease swelling with ice packs.

Physiotherapy and Exercise Will Manage Your Pain!

Some of the ways your physiotherapist can help:

  • Create a personal exercise and stretching routine to manage pain and stiffness.
  • Correct your posture to manage pain.
  • Maintain good range of movement so you can accomplish daily tasks easier.
  • Design cardiovascular exercises to improve chest expansion, decrease fatigue, and improve sleep.
  • Provide education and other therapies to relieve pain.

Students from the School of Physiotherapy created a printable info sheet on this topic in partnership with the Saskatchewan Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the info sheet.