The effect of a six-week Aqua Pilates and Aqua Stretch intervention on pain, function, and quality of life in patients affected by ankylosing spondylitis: A rater-blind randomized controlled trial

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2024;37(2):355-367. doi: 10.3233/BMR-230077.


Background: There has been a dearth of research into the benefits of water-based workouts for ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients.

Objective: This study aimed to compare the effect of Aqua Stretch and Aqua Pilates in improving quality of life (QOL), function, and pain in AS patients.

Methods: This study was conducted on 40 patients, who were randomly assigned to the Aqua Pilates, Aqua Stretch, and control groups. The experimental groups attended interventions for six-week. QOL, pain intensity, function, and fatigue were measured before and after treatments.

Results: Except for the chest expanding, all variables in the Aqua Stretch group changed significantly after six weeks (p< 0.05). QOL (p= 0.002), 6MWT (p= 0.016), and Schober flexion (p= 0.011) showed changes, while BASDAI (p= 0.0001), VAS (p= 0.0001), fatigue (p= 0.0001), and Schober extension (p= 0.028) showed significant decreases. Except for chest expansion and Schober extension, which did not alter significantly after six-week of Aqua Pilates (p> 0.05), all other variables did. There was an increasing trend in 6MWT and Schober flexion (p= 0.021) and a decreasing trend in BASDAI (p= 0.002), VAS (p= 0.0001) and fatigue (p= 0.002). Except for QOL (p= 0.016), no statistically significant differences were found between the groups.

Conclusion: All variables had a significant change after six-week Aqua Stretch, except for the chest expanding. Chest expanding and Schober extension were the variables which had no significant change after six-week Aqua Pilates. With the exception of QOL, no statistically significant differences were found between the groups. Aqua Stretch had the greatest effect on the VAS, as measured by the minimum clinically relevant differences (MCID). Moreover, in Aqua Stretch alone, there was a notable impact on fatigue, QOL, and the BASDAI.

Keywords: Spine; disability; fatigue; patient; rheumatoid srthritis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Fatigue
  • Humans
  • Pain
  • Physical Examination
  • Quality of Life
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing* / therapy