Improvement in pain intensity, spine stiffness, and mobility during a controlled individualized physiotherapy program in ankylosing spondylitis

Rheumatol Int. 2012 Dec;32(12):3931-6. doi: 10.1007/s00296-011-2325-9. Epub 2011 Dec 25.


Physical therapy in ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is important for maintaining or improving mobility, fitness, functioning, and global health. It also plays a role in the prevention and management of structural deformities. In this study we assessed the functional status of AS patients in relation to disease duration and activity. Furthermore, in volunteering patients we analyzed the efficacy of a controlled, individualized physiotherapeutic program. Altogether, clinical data of 75 AS patients were retrospectively analyzed. Anthropometrical data, duration since diagnosis and disease activity, pain intensity, tender points, sacroiliac joint involvement determined by X-ray, functional condition, and physical activity level were recorded. Subjective, functional, and physical tests were performed. Out of the 75 patients, 10 volunteered to undergo a complex physical exercise program twice a week for 3 months. The program included 1.5 h of general posture reeducation, manual mobilization of the spine, and pelvic-, upper-, and lower-extremity exercises, stretching with joint prevention strategies and functional exercises. In AS, pain intensity recorded on a 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS), BASFI, BASDAI, modified Schober index, chest expansion and occiput-to-wall distance values showed significant correlation with disease activity. The 3-month physical therapy improved several subjective and functional parameters, and markedly reduced pain intensity and spine stiffness. A complex, individualized physical therapy program may be useful and should be introduced to AS patients in order to maintain and increase spine mobility, preserve functional capacity, decrease the pain and stiffness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Precision Medicine
  • Quality of Life
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spine / physiopathology*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / physiopathology
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome