Ankylosing Spondylitis: Stretches and Treatment

September 8th, 2023

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of inflammatory arthritis.  Unlike the more common osteoarthritis, which can result from previous injury and/or age, AS is an autoimmune condition.  AS involves pain and inflammation in the spine eventually leading to the individual spinal joints fusing together.  

Ankylosing spondylitis typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and is most prevalent in males.   The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness in the back and hips, especially in the morning.  



Early diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis is important to effectively manage symptoms.  Since early symptoms of AS are similar to other more common back problems, accurate diagnosis is often delayed.  

A blood test called HLA-B27 can be helpful in confirming a diagnosis, but it is not foolproof.  Although 90% of people with AS will test positive for HLA-B27, 10% of people without AS will also test positive for it.  Other blood tests like CRP (C-Reactive Protein) and ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) can confirm the presence of inflammation.  

X-rays can show early stages of joint inflammation and fusion.  Ultimately, diagnosing AS comes down to a good clinician piecing together the individual’s symptoms and exam findings to come to a logical conclusion. 



Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis will often involve prescription medications to manage pain and inflammation, and people with AS should strongly consider adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.  

Since AS involves a stiffening of the joints in the spine, a consistent movement and mobility routine should also be a first line treatment.  Yoga classes can be hugely beneficial since they involve a variety of movements with an emphasis on breath work. 

Chiropractic care involving gentle joint mobilizations and massage of tight muscles can help alleviate pain and maintain range of motion.  Chiropractors can also prescribe mobility drills as part of a home exercise program.  

The following are stretches anyone with spine stiffness can do to help decrease pain and improve mobility.

If you have been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and would like guidance on how to move and feel better, we would be happy to help.  CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment.


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