Spinal issues can render you completely inactive and immobile if left untreated. The problem faced by physicians and surgeons is that in most cases there is no definitive cure to the disease. Symptomatic management and minimal correction are the only possibilities.
Ankylosing spondylitis is one such spinal malady that has no known cure. However, you could use a massage chair for ankylosing spondylitis. It relieves the symptoms.
What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an arthritis-like inflammatory disease that affects the bones of your spine i.e. vertebrae. According to a study, the disease has a prevalence of 0.2-0.5% in the US whereas the incidence is found to be 0.4-14 per 100,00 persons/year.
The inflammatory disease has a unique course of progression that leads to the fusion of the vertebrae. The initial inflammation ends up in postural misalignment (hunched-back posture) due to the formation of new bone and fusion of the adjacent small vertebral bones.
Symptoms Of Ankylosing Spondylitis
The disease is more common in women than men. The disease progression is inevitable in most cases and the symptoms worsen over time.
Like auto-immune disorders, patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis experience periods of exacerbated symptoms i.e. flare ups followed by reminiscence.
This debilitating disease manifests itself in the following ways:
Back Pain And Stiffness
Early morning stiffness and back pain are identified as important diagnostic features of ankylosing spondylitis as confirmed by a study.
Other symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:
- Postural changes (stooped shoulders)
- Persistent low-grade fever
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Weight changes (reduction)
- Reduced lung function in the advanced stage of disease
According to a study, depression is common in patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis.
Causes And Risk Factors
The exact cause of ankylosing spondylitis is unknown however there are certain predisposing factors that are linked to the disease.
As per a meta-analysis, HLA-B27 polymorphism (gene mutation) is responsible for the occurrence of ankylosing spondylitis. The chances of acquiring ankylosing spondylitis are greater if one of the parents has it, or there is a family history.
Ankylosing spondylitis manifests itself in younger adults (contrary to other rheumatic conditions that present at an early age). Usually, the disease is diagnosed at age 20-40.
Men are more prone to develop this disease, especially Caucasian men.
Addressing the disease earliest possible is very important because if left untreated, some serious complications can develop.
Fusion Of Spinal Vertebrae
According to a study, vertebral fusion is a serious complication of the disease and should be stopped. Inhibition of heterotropic ossification can halt the progression of ankylosing spondylitis.
Inflammation Of Joints, Ligaments, And Tendons (Vertebral And Hips/Shoulders)
Inflammation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Research shows that ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory auto-immune disease and is considered a type of spondyloarthropathy.
In the advanced stage, inflammation can spread to ligaments/tendons and decrease flexibility.
The ankylosing disease is characterized by the impact on costosternal and costovertebral joints that leads to a reduction in chest expansion. This eventually leads to respiratory failure that may be improved with aerobic training. A study suggests that loss of peripheral muscle is a determinant of decreased lung capacity in AS.
This type of rheumatological condition increases your chances of experiencing spinal vertebral fractures. According to a study, the structural changes of the vertebrae render the spine susceptible to fractures which can be managed surgically or non-surgically.
These fractures may get overlooked in the conventional X-rays therefore it is important to manage them, says the German Orthopedic Trauma Society-Spine Section.
Eye Irritation And Inflammation
Ankylosing spondylitis has an impact on the eyes of the patient too. According to a study, people suffering from AS were found to have a history of eye inflammation. The affected participants showed greater choroid thickness as compared to the healthy subjects.
This inflammation (uveitis) is considered a marker for systemic inflammation and causes eye problems. Another 2018 Chinese cohort study concluded that AS patients manifested fibrinous exudates in both eyes with more cases of secondary glaucoma. The prevalence of cataracts for such patients was also greater.
Treatment Of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Treating Ankylosing spondylitis is tricky because of the unknown origin of the disease. Most of the treatments are aimed at two points:
- Halting the progression of the disease
- Providing symptomatic relief of symptoms
The underlying disease is not treated while the symptoms are managed.
Massage For Ankylosing Spondylitis
An efficacious non-interventional way of getting rid of pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility is massage therapy. A massage therapist’s touch is all that an AS patient needs. There are different types of massages that target specific needs of the AS patient.
In a comparison between deep tissue massage (DTM) and therapeutic massage (TM), it was found that both massages were extremely beneficial for the patients. In this randomized controlled trial, the extent of the disease was measured using the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) and Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI). At the end of the study it was concluded that massage leads to the following changes:
- Evident reduction in back pain (chronic low back pain)
- Improvement in range of motion
- Increased functional capacity (especially in pregnant women)
- A reduction in blood pressure and heart rate
This procedure is as good as other interventions, a study says.
Massage Chair For Ankylosing Spondylitis
With a massage chair, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy!
You really want to flush out pains, stiffness, and fatigue from the body? The undoubtedly easiest way of doing it is visiting a massage therapist. If you can’t go due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown or some personal reasons, a massage chair can do the trick for you.
As per a case study, massage therapy or massage chair came out as an effective, safe, and promising treatment in casting out pain, stiffness, and fatigue from an AS patient.
You shall feel evident alleviations in symptoms (such as upper and lower back pain, and stiffness associated with ankylosing spondylitis) after a chair massage. This type of therapy is ideal for mild-to-moderate cases of ankylosing spondylitis. However, you should avoid very hard massages that can exacerbate the symptoms.
Mechanical massage using a massage chair can lead to deeper relaxation and pain relief. A randomized controlled trial promotes the use of mechanical chair massage to reduce back muscle fatigue with whatever underlying condition.
Massage Plus Other Complementary Medicine Treatments
If you aim to boost the effect of massage, you can add some other treatment modality to it. One such procedure that can be fruitful is needle-pricking therapy. A controlled study suggests that the combination of needle-pricking therapy and spinal massage can be perfect for Ankylosing spondylitis patients. It was found that spinal massage (via chair) and needle-pricking therapy had a steady and long-term effect.
Massage Eases Complications Of AS
Spinal fractures are frequently seen in AS patients. It was checked in a case report that massage helped ease symptoms of fracture-dislocation (at C6-C7 level) in a patient with Ankylosing spondylitis.
Benefits Of Chair Massage Therapy
Following is a list of the benefits imparted from a chair massage for ankylosing spondylitis patient:
- Pain reduction
- No dependence on a massage therapist
- Improved range of motion and greater mobility
Generally, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium are prescribed for managing pain and inflammation.
Special drugs i.e Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors block the inflammatory response of the body, thereby, allowing for a reduction in joint stiffness and pain. Studies suggest that TNF inhibitors effectively limit the progression of the disease.
Interleukin inhibitors also produce a favorable response as indicated by a meta-analysis.
Exercise And Stretching
Range-of-motion exercises, strength training, and stretching can improve joint mobility and help in enhancing strength.
Patients may also benefit from either hot or cold therapy. Applying ice on the sore areas may work for some while others get relief from heat application.
Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that can effectively alleviate symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.
In cases where severe deformity of the joints has been done (hips, knees, etc.) surgical intervention is imminent. An osteotomy is performed on people having a poor posture as a result of progressing AS.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory rheumatological disease that occurs in middle-aged patients. The main target of the disease is the vertebrae of the spine. It can lead to fusion of vertebrae that can cause complications such as back pain, spinal fractures, disrupted posture, and breathing issues. Effective non-surgical intervention in the management of AS is massage. Deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage are the best. A massage chair can also help you alleviate symptoms.