WHAT IS ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS, or radiographic axial spondyloarthritis) is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine, even though other joints may turn out to be affected, as well. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints, which may lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.
The onset of AS is usually diagnosed in patients between 17 and 45 years of age (most commonly before 30). Males are diagnosed up to 3 times more often than females, and usually suffer more severe symptoms than women.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AS?
The most common early symptoms of AS are recurrent pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks, which develops gradually for a few weeks or months. Primarily, the discomfort may be felt on one side, both sides or change from one side to another.
The pain is typically dull and diffused, instead of localized, and gets worse during the night or early morning. It may improve after getting up, or after a warm shower. Light exercise seems to bring some relief, too. Other symptoms of AS in the early stages may include mild fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, and general discomfort.
The pain eventually becomes persistent (chronic) and can be felt on both sides. It usually lasts for no less than three months. After several months or years, the stiffness and pain can spread up the spine and into the neck. Pain and tenderness may start from or spread to peripheral joints such as the hip, ankle, elbow, knee, heel, or shoulder.
AS may also result in inflammation of the soft tissues of the eye (in less than half of the cases), causing swelling. Patients may therefore experience eye redness, pain, and an amplified sensitivity to light.
TREATMENT OF ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS
AS is a genetic disease (it is hereditary) and it cannot be prevented or 100% healed. Nevertheless, physical limitations may be diminished, or prevented, by daily participation in physical therapy programs. Medication for specific symptoms (such as psoriasis) can also be prescribed.
Another option may involve applying heat/cold compresses to help relax muscles and reduce joint pain. If your hip joints have developed severe arthritis, your physician may recommend a total hip replacement. In other cases, posture correcting surgery may also be efficient.
HOW CAN A PHYSICAL THERAPIST IN CARY HELP WHEN YOU SUFFER FROM AS?
Physical therapy is the most common, and the most efficient, form of treatment in AS. Physical therapy in Cary will help improve your posture and joint mobility, relieve pain, and help you partake in your everyday activities with less pain. Your physical therapist in Cary may assist you in mastering the following techniques to improve your quality of life:
- Posture Training
This kind of training can improve your posture and help you avoid slouching or bending forward. This training is important to ensure that you maintain an upright posture.
- Strengthening Exercises
These can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, improve proper posture and walking, and help you in performing your daily activities.
- Flexibility Exercises
These exercises support and enhance joint mobility. Exercises for your leg and chest muscles and mild range-of-motion exercises help prevent the spine and other joints from getting stiff. Water exercises reduce joint pain and improve movement in patients with AS.
- Stretching Exercises
These can help the trunk muscles in improving chest expansion.
- Deep-Breathing Exercises
These work towards improving chest expansion and supporting better breathing. Enhanced breathing boosts oxygen and blood flow in the body, which can help minimize stiffness, pain, and weakness.
- Pain Management Techniques (such as using ice or heat compressions)
These techniques can control inflammation and soreness in the joints. Your physical therapist may prescribe a TENS unit, which is an electrical stimulation treatment used to alleviate pain.
- Individual Activities
Lastly, individual activities can improve your functional strength and stamina, and help decrease fatigue. Your physical therapist will instruct you on how to move your body efficiently when conducting daily activities to evade tension. Your physical therapist may also advise using an assistive device, such as a cane or walker to improve your walking, reduce pain, and decrease your risk of falling.
PHYSICAL THERAPY IN CARY, NC – FOR TREATMENT OF AC
When you visit your physical therapist in Cary, NC because of your symptoms, the physical therapist will take your medical history, and ask you to specify how your symptoms occurred, what symptoms you endured first, and if they get worse with inactivity and better with activity.
Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your posture, and of the range of motion of your joints (spine, hips, knees, and shoulders). Your physical therapist will also examine any tender spots around your spine, hips, and sacroiliac joints, and gently assess your ability to lean forward, bend backward, squat, and walk.
Your physical therapist in Cary will then cooperate with you to make sure that you maintain your best posture, flexibility, joint mobility, and muscle strength, in order to lead a productive, full life with the least limitations. We are here to help!
For comprehensive pain and joint care in AC, you may get a referral to Raleigh Orthopaedic Therapy Services, or make an appointment on your own. The team of licensed physical therapists, licensed athletic trainers, and exercise physiologists provide world-class, cost-effective physical therapy services through our team of well-educated, experienced professionals, and support personnel.
For your convenience, physical therapy is offered at our eight clinic locations in the Triangle. To schedule a therapy appointment at one of our clinics or performance centers, please call (919) 863-6996. For any other questions or concerns, please call our main therapy number (919) 781-4060.
*Please note: Our new Cary office is opening February 4, 2019.
New address: 115 Kildaire Park Drive, Suite 102 Cary, NC 27518
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.