What is the role of physical therapy and exercise in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence H Brent, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Physical therapy is important for maintaining function. [135, 136] A proper exercise program is a crucial component of such therapy. Patients obtain a significant reduction in symptoms after exercising. Referral to physical therapy or to a rehabilitation specialist is useful in assisting patients to develop an appropriate exercise program.  

Water therapy and swimming are excellent activities for maintaining mobility and fitness. In addition, a meta-analysis concluded that aquatic physical therapy can statistically significantly reduce pain and disease activity in patients with AS. [137]

Postural training is also useful. Spinal extension and deep-breathing exercises help maintain spinal mobility, encourage erect posture, and promote chest expansion. Maintaining an erect posture during daily activities and sleeping on a firm mattress with a thin pillow also tend to reduce the tendency toward thoracic kyphosis.


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