NICE recommends personalised physiotherapy for axial spondyloarthritis

Thursday 5th July 2018
New NICE guidance has recommended that people with axial spondyloarthritis should be referred to see a physiotherapist to receive a personalised exercise programme.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that people with axial spondyloarthritis should be referred for personalised treatment by a specialist physiotherapist.

A new quality standard has been issued by the UK regulator covering the diagnosis and management of spondyloarthritis in adults aged 16 and over, recommending that people affected by the condition should be provided with a personalised, structured exercise programme to improve their quality of life.

Specialist physiotherapists have been tasked with taking the lead on developing these individually-tailored exercise regimens, drawing upon their experience and expertise in treating rheumatological conditions of this kind.

Examples of the kind of techniques that may be beneficial include stretching, strengthening and postural exercises, as well as deep breathing, spinal extension and aerobic exercise, and tasks that develop the lumbar, thoracic and cervical sections of the spine.

In NICE's view, input from physiotherapists on this matter could help patients to reduce pain and fatigue, maintain or improve their mobility, and increase their ability to self-manage and attain a higher quality of life.

Carol McCrum, a consultant physiotherapist at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "The quality standard highlights recognition and referral, an awareness of the different kind of MRI that people require and the importance of specialist physio care once someone is diagnosed."

Axial spondyloarthritis is a chronic form of arthritis that causes significant inflammatory low back pain that can persist for months. It is characterised by periods of painful episodes called flares, which typically worsen during periods of inactivity.

Since there is no cure for the condition, well-structured exercise programmes can play an important role in helping those affected to stay active and find relief from the most debilitating physical symptoms.

Written by Mathew Horton

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