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05-10-2017 | Ankylosing spondylitis | Review | Article

The role of land and aquatic exercise in ankylosing spondylitis: a systematic review

Rheumatology International

Authors: Ana Zão, Pedro Cantista

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg


Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic and inflammatory rheumatic disease, characterized by pain and structural and functional impairments, such as reduced mobility and axial deformity, which lead to diminished quality of life. Its treatment includes not only drugs, but also nonpharmacological therapy. Exercise appears to be a promising modality. The aim of this study is to review the current evidence and evaluate the role of exercise either on land or in water for the management of patients with AS in the biological era. Systematic review of the literature published until November 2016 in Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Scopus databases. Thirty-five studies were included for further analysis (30 concerning land exercise and 5 concerning water exercise; combined or not with biological drugs), comprising a total of 2515 patients. Most studies showed a positive effect of exercise on Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index, pain, mobility, function and quality of life. The benefit was statistically significant in randomized controlled trials. Results support a multimodal approach, including educational sessions and maintaining home-based program. This study highlights the important role of exercise in management of AS, therefore it should be encouraged and individually prescribed. More studies with good methodological quality are needed to strengthen the results and to define the specific characteristics of exercise programs that determine better results.

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