Does physical therapy still have a place in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis?

Elyan M, Khan MA

This review studied various physical therapy programs in ankylosing spondylitis and identify their benefits and potential indications in the treatment of this disease. In previous studies, home exercise programs have been shown to improve symptoms, mobility, function and overall quality of life. Formal physical therapy under the supervision of a physical therapist has been shown to improve posture, fitness, mobility, function and mood. Water therapy may improve symptoms, function and overall sense of health. Inpatient rehabilitation may provide rapid short-term improvement in pain and stiffness, mobility, function and quality of life for patients with severe active disease. Despite the advances in the pharmacological therapy of ankylosing spondylitis, physical therapy remains an essential part of the management plan. Even though data are not sufficient to determine which specific physical therapy program should be recommended, physicians should implement such nonpharmacological therapy as part of a comprehensive management strategy for this disease. All patients should receive instructions on proper posture and home exercises and be encouraged to perform water exercises if they can.

Formal physical therapy and, in most severe cases, inpatient rehabilitation may be of benefit to select patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

Current Opinion in Rheumatology, 2008, 20(3), 282-6

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