spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of joints that causes pain and
stiffness in and around the spine. The spine is made up of individual bones
called the vertebrae that are stacked over one another. Spondylitis refers to
inflammation of the joints between two vertebrae; over time it leads to fusion
of vertebrae, thus limiting movements of the spine like bending. Joints between
the vertebrae and the pelvic joints are affected by ankylosing spondylitis. The
disease can also affect other tissues of the body. A recent study evaluated the
effect of ankylosing spondylitis on lung function.
clear relationship was drawn between reduced spinal mobility and restrictive
lung function in this study. Bony fusion, i.e. ankylosis leads to mechanical
limitations. The ultimate result is reduced lung volumes. Reduced mobility of the spine and chest wall was found to have the
strongest relation to reduced lung function
. Other factors like measures
of disease activity, physical function, smoking and cardio-respiratory fitness
did not contribute much. Inflammation was also found to be of less importance
with regard to respiratory function.
Physical therapy and
exercise play key roles in the management of ankylosing spondylitis. They help
to improve posture, spine mobility, and lung capacity. Progressive
musculoskeletal limitation seen in ankylosing spondylitis leads to
deteriorating lung function. The results of the recent research published in
Arthritis Research and Therapy press for greater stress on interventions
targeting the repair of musculoskeletal limitations due to the disease
of spinal stability may improve lung function in affected patients, wrote the
authors. Patients with severely reduced
spinal mobility may hence be referred for examination of lung function.
The study has also exposed the requirement for further
examination of the relationships between the disease-specific changes and lung
function in ankylosing spondylitis.
Reference: Restrictive pulmonary function is
more prevalent in patients with ankylosing spondylitis than in matched
population controls and is associated with impaired spinal mobility: a
comparative study; Gunnhild et al; BMC Arthritis & Research 2012.