Just eight weeks of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) - therapeutic breathing exercises - result in greater improvement in lung function than conventional treatments in patients with a form of spine arthritis, claims new research.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a painful and progressive form of arthritis caused by chronic inflammation of the joints in the spine, a condition often associated with breathing difficulties.
"We assessed resting pulmonary function and ran cardiopulmonary exercise tests at the start and end of the study and saw significant improvements across all measures of lung function in the group undergoing IMT," said study investigator Razvan Dragoi from the Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Romania.
"When you compare these findings with the conventional exercise group -- which saw small, non-significant improvements -- it is clear that adding IMT to an exercise program has clear health benefits for patients with AS," Dragoi noted.
Inspiratory muscle training is a course of therapy consisting of a series of breathing exercises to strengthen the bodies' pulmonary muscles.
Prevalence of AS varies globally, and is estimated at 23.8 per 10,000 in Europe and 31.9 per 10,000 in North America, the researchers noted.
For the study, fifty four patients with AS were randomized to either conventional rehabilitation exercise training associated with IMT or conventional training alone.
Although the IMT and conventional exercise groups were homogenous at the beginning of the study, by the end of eight weeks the IMT group showed significant improvements in chest expansion, aerobic capacity, resting pulmonary function and ventilator efficiency.
The study was presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2015) in Rome, Italy.