Lindsey Curtis is a health writer with over 20 years of experience writing articles on health, science, and wellness.
Laura Campedelli, PT, DPT is a physical therapist with experience in hospital emergency care and outpatient care for children and adults.
If you have ankylosing spondylitis (AS), you’ve probably heard that braces can help reduce back pain and maintain good posture. While a temporary brace may support the spine to help manage pain, it is not a long-term solution for reducing pain or correcting posture problems.
Finding the right tools to treat the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis can sometimes be like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are many options; braces and other assistive devices for speakers are not a universal device. It may take trial and error until you find the best tool for your needs.
This article discusses the use of corsets, orthoses and other aids in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.
Chronic low back pain and stiffness, the most common symptoms of AS, usually worsen with prolonged rest or sleep and tend to improve with exercise. Wearing a lumbar support brace can relieve pain by reducing pressure on the spine(vertebrae) and limiting movement. Stretching can also relax tight muscles to prevent muscle spasms.
Research on the effectiveness of corsets for lower back pain is mixed. The study found that the combination of exercise education, back pain education, and back support did not reduce pain when compared to exercise and education.
However, a 2018 review of research found that lumbar orthoses (braces) can significantly reduce pain and improve spinal function when combined with other treatments.
During exacerbations, AS usually affects the sacroiliac joints, which connect the spine to the pelvis. As the disease progresses, AS can affect the entire spine and cause postural deformities such as:
Although braces appear to be effective in preventing or reducing posture problems, no research supports the use of back brace in AS. The Arthritis Foundation recommends wearing a corset to correct posture problems associated with AS, which is neither practical nor effective. Exercise for ankylosing spondylitis can help manage symptoms and improve posture in people with AS.
Pain and stiffness can make daily tasks difficult, especially during AS flare-ups (or periods of flare-ups or worsening of symptoms). Instead of suffering, consider assistive devices to minimize discomfort and make everyday life more manageable.
Many types of gadgets, tools and other devices are available. The method that is right for you depends on your symptoms, lifestyle, and needs. If you are newly diagnosed, you may not need these devices, but people with advanced AS may find these tools helpful in developing independence and maintaining a good quality of life.
Despite the progressive nature of AS, many people live long and productive lives with the disease. With the right tools and support, you can get along well with AS.
Walking aids like these can help you move more easily at home, at work, and on the road:
Pain management is an important part of life for people with ankylosing spondylitis. In addition to taking medications prescribed by your healthcare provider, certain remedies, such as the following, can help reduce joint pain and stiffness:
Day-to-day tasks can be challenging when you’re dealing with AS flares. Assistive devices can help you perform everyday tasks with minimal pain, including:
With so many options, buying assistive devices can be overwhelming. You may wish to consult with your primary care physician or occupational therapist (OT) before making any decisions. They can evaluate your symptoms and help you find the right tools for your needs.
Aids, tools, and gadgets can also be expensive. Even inexpensive ankylosing spondylitis aids can quickly pay for themselves when you need them. Fortunately, there are several ways to help you cover the costs, including:
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory arthritis characterized by low back pain and stiffness. As the disease progresses, AS can lead to spinal deformities such as kyphosis (humpback) or bamboo spine.
Some people with AS wear a brace to reduce pain or maintain good posture. However, a corset is not a long-term solution for reducing pain or correcting posture problems.
Symptoms of AS can make it difficult or even impossible to perform everyday tasks. Aids, tools, and gadgets can help you function at work, at home, and on the go. These tools are designed to relieve pain and/or support proper spinal alignment to help people with AS stay independent and live a good life.
Health insurance, government programs and charities can help pay for the devices to ensure the tools are available to those who need them.
Some habits can make ankylosing spondylitis symptoms worse: smoking, eating processed foods, poor posture, sedentary lifestyle, chronic stress, and lack of sleep. Making healthy lifestyle choices and following your healthcare provider’s advice can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Not everyone with ankylosing spondylitis needs a wheelchair, crutches, or other walking aids to get around. AS affects everyone differently. Although specific symptoms such as back pain are common in people with AS, symptom severity and disability vary from person to person.
Ankylosing spondylitis is not life-threatening, and people with AS have a normal life expectancy. As the disease progresses, certain health complications can develop, such as cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease (blood vessels in the brain), which can increase the risk of death.
Annaswami TM, Cunniff KJ, Kroll M. et al. Lumbar support for chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2021;100(8):742-749. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001743
Short S, Zirke S, Schmelzle JM et al. Effectiveness of lumbar orthoses for low back pain: a review of the literature and our results. Orthop Rev (Pavia). 2018;10(4):7791. doi:10.4081/or.2018.7791
Maggio D, Grossbach A, Gibbs D, et al. Correction of spinal deformities in ankylosing spondylitis. Surg Neurol Int. 2022;13:138. doi: 10.25259/SNI_254_2022
Menz HB, Allan JJ, Bonanno DR, et al. Custom Orthotic Insoles: An Analysis of the Prescription Performance of Australian Commercial Orthopedic Laboratories. J ankle cut. 10:23. doi: 10.1186/s13047-017-0204-7
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Chen F.K., Jin Z.L., Wang D.F. A retrospective study of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for chronic pain after ankylosing spondylitis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(27):e11265. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000011265
American Spondylitis Association. Effect of driving difficulties on performance in patients with axial spondyloarthritis.
National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation. What are your payment options for assistive devices?
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Department of Health and Medicine, Health Services Commission. Related product and technology reports.
Post time: May-06-2023