Ankylosing SpondylitisSophie Keate
What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritic disease that most commonly affects the spine; however, the disease can also affect other joints such as the hands, knees and even organs such as the eyes! This painful genetic condition is estimated to affect around 1 in 200 people (Zhu et al. 2019), and although we generally associate arthritis as a disease more common as we age, Ankylosing Spondylitis often affects younger people, with most people first experiencing symptoms between 15 and 35 years of age (McVeigh & Cairns 2006).
Could I have Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Typically, there are signs and symptoms that can raise suspicion for this disease, however this can also mimic other types of back pain, making diagnosis difficult. Ankylosing Spondylitis’ key differential is of an inflammatory nature rather than a mechanical injury. This may include morning stiffness or pain that subsides after 30 minutes, pain that improves with gentle activity, improvement with anti-inflammatory medications and alternating buttock pain (Rudwaleit et al. 2006). Ankylosing Spondylitis has been typically associated as a genetic condition, meaning if you have a family member with the disease, you could be predisposed to developing the condition (McVeigh & Cairns 2006). If you suspect that you may have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and have low back pain for longer than 3 months which has not improved significantly with treatment, it may be worthwhile discussing with your GP further investigations, including blood tests, or having an MRI of the sacroiliac joints to assess for sacroiliitis.
What can I do about Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach, meaning that to successfully treat the condition it is important to involve at least the following; Your regular GP, a Rheumatologist, a Physiotherapist and most importantly, yourself in the rehabilitation process. From a Physiotherapy point of view, I have found success in using hydrotherapy, specific and patient centred exercise rehabilitation, manual therapy, and education about the condition, including addressing the underlying inflammation. It is important to find a Physiotherapist who understands the condition and the impact it can have on your life.
Do you need help or know someone who does?
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed or is struggling with what could be Ankylosing Spondylitis, it is important to seek treatment early. Call Mundaring & Hills Physiotherapy to see one of our Physiotherapists for prompt management and treatment.
Upon completion of his Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree from Curtin University, Ashley started working at Como Physiotherapy. Ashley’s areas of interest are in the areas of rehabilitation and the prevention of sports injuries, management of chronic disease, chronic low back pain and treatment of amputees.
Ashley is also trained in DMA Clinical Pilates, in which he utilises a combination of dry needling, with exercise and manual therapy to achieve the best results during treatment sessions.
Ashley is currently the Physiotherapist for the Perth Redbacks State Basketball League, a role Ashley took on with the club in 2014. Ashley is also currently working with individuals suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis on Monday evenings in Shenton Park, utilising group exercise and hydrotherapy for the management of this disease.
During his spare time, Ashley’s other activities include playing basketball, cycling around the Swan River, scuba diving or watching the West Coast Eagles!
Zhu, W., He, X., Cheng, K., Zhang, L., Chen, D., Wang, X., Qiu, G., Cao, X., & Weng, X. (2019). Ankylosing spondylitis: etiology, pathogenesis, and treatments. Bone research, 7, 22. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41413-019-0057-8
McVeigh, C. M., & Cairns, A. P. (2006). Diagnosis and management of ankylosing spondylitis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 333(7568), 581–585. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38954.689583.DE
Rudwaleit, M., Metter, A., Listing, J., Sieper, J., & Braun, J. (2006). Inflammatory back pain in ankylosing spondylitis: a reassessment of the clinical history for application as classification and diagnostic criteria. Arthritis and rheumatism, 54(2), 569–578. https://doi.org/10.1002/art.21619