Is group physical therapy superior to individualized therapy in ankylosing spondylitis? A randomized controlled trial

Arthritis Care Res. 1993 Sep;6(3):117-25. doi: 10.1002/art.1790060303.


Purpose: To study the effects of adding supervised group physical therapy to unsupervised individualized therapy in ankylosing spondylitis.

Methods: One hundred forty-four patients were randomized to exercises at home, or the same plus weekly group physical therapy for 9 months. Endpoints were spinal mobility, fitness (maximum work capacity by ergometry), functioning (Sickness Impact Profile, Health Assessment Questionnaire for the Spondylarthropathies, and Functional Index), and patient's global assessment of change on a 10-cm visual analogue scale.

Results: Thoracolumbar flexion and extension increased by an average of 0.5 cm (9%) after home exercises, and by 0.9 cm (16%) after group therapy. Maximum load in ergometry decreased by 2 W (1%) after home exercises, but increased by 7 W (4%) after group therapy. Global assessment improved by 0.3 (6%) after home exercises, and by 1.7 (34%) after group therapy. These three differences were statistically significant. There were no significant differences in chest expansion, cervical rotation, or the self-assessments of functioning.

Conclusions: Group physical therapy proved superior to individualized therapy in improving thoracolumbar mobility and fitness, and had an important effect on global health reported by the patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / organization & administration*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / psychology
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / therapy*