What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine. It usually presents in early adulthood as lower back stiffness. The condition can progress slowly over time and result in spinal fusion (ankylosing), limited mobility, and a stooped posture.

The causes of AS are not entirely known. Some researchers foreground the individual’s specific genetic make-up. Others believe exposure to certain micro-organisms trigger a malfunction of the body’s immune system. The resulting inflammation usually starts with joints of the lower spine.

What are the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?

AS manifests with a gradual onset of back pain and stiffness, most pronounced in the early morning. The stiffness and pain tend to diminish during the day. Exercise reduces the stiffness, whereas periods of rest cause it to return. Weight loss (especially in the early stages) fatigue, tiredness, feeling feverish and night sweats are other symptoms. There may be associated inflammation of the eyes (uveitis) or bowel (colitis), or scaly skin lesions (psoriasis).

What treatments are currently available?

There have been great advances in the treatment of AS. New drugs are changing the lives of people with AS. Most are able to live active and productive lives, especially when treatment is started early. However, for optimal management of AS, a combination of drug and non-drug therapies is recommended. Acquiring the appropriate knowledge and skills helps individuals manage their AS through exercise, pacing and other strategies.

There is no cure for AS. Utilizing self-management strategies, alongside drug therapies is important for enhancing quality of life. Based on research and clinical experience, at the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Auto-immune Disease we have designed a self-management training program for AS.

How will the Boot Camp Program help with Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Dr. Ammendolia has developed a self-management program that, when combined with drug therapy, aims to maintain spinal mobility and reduce risk of individuals developing a stooped posture. The program involves training individuals with AS to perform daily postural exercises that help preserve an erect posture. As with our other programs, Individuals should not attempt this without consulting their health care professional.