Severe Back Pain? You could be suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis. It is important if you suffer from symptoms such as back pain and spinal stiffness that you seek assistance to help diagnose the underlying cause.

Understanding the underlying cause helps your health care professional to appropriately treat with the best treatment options available while preventing any worsening of symptoms.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is one of many causes of back pain and is only thought to affect 0.1- 0.5% of Caucasian individuals, although prevalence varies among different ethnic groups. Although rare compared to other back pain pathologies, early diagnosis of AS is essential because most of the disease progression occurs in the first 10 years of disease. In this blog, we will delve into what exactly AS is, the symptoms to recognise and what to do if you think you may be affected.

What is AS?

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory rheumatic condition affecting primarily the spine, however other joints can become involved in more advanced cases.

It is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation in effected areas of the spine causing chronic pain and disability. As the disease progresses, this inflammation may lead to new bone formation and loss of spinal mobility resulting from stiffening and fusion of the spinal segments.

The exact cause of AS remains unknown however it is thought to have a genetic component which may be triggered by environmental factors such as physical and emotional stress.

Why is understanding ankylosing spondylitis important?

Unlike most forms of arthritis, AS affects young people. The average age of onset is 26 years old however age of onset can range from late teens up to the age of 40. Early identification of AS is critical because a large proportion of disease progression occurs in the first 10 years of the disease. As with many forms of back pain, AS can be debilitating and in some severe cases lead to disability. Diagnosis of AS is normally made by a rheumatologist however your physiotherapist can help you identify some of the early signs. Your physiotherapist can also help you with ongoing management of the condition and provide valuable advice on modifying activities, pain management and physical activity.

Symptoms to remember that may indicate the need to seek help from a healthcare provider:

  • low or mid-back pain that has a slow and progressive onset
  • pain that tends to improve with moving and physical activity
  • pain that is not relieved by rest
  • pain and stiffness that tends to be worse in the morning
  • loss of spinal mobility
  • fatigue

Back pain is extremely common, and we want to ensure you receive the most up-to-date and effective treatment available. Exercise therapy is one of the most important treatments in the management of AS. Your physiotherapist can help you understand what exercises are most effective in managing the condition while tailoring treatment to suit individual needs and help clients reach their goals.

If you or anyone you know are suffering from symptoms consistent with AS, get in touch with us at Generation Physio & Allied Health, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients. All our clinicians are mobile and come to your own home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation today!


Article Written By Mia Pinchin

Mia graduated from Bond University on the Gold Coast. She completed a Bachelor of Sport & Exercise Science in 2016 before going on to complete her Doctorate of Physiotherapy in 2019. During her study, Mia was exposed to a wide variety of clinical specialties including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, musculoskeletal, neurological rehabilitation, and geriatrics.

Mia has a special interest in musculoskeletal and vestibular physiotherapy and is excited to gain further experience and knowledge in the area. She enjoys working with a wide range of clinical populations with a focus on enhancing function and improving clients overall quality of life.

Learn more about Mia here

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