Expert Q&A: Brace for AS?

Learn if a back brace can help curvature in people with ankylosing spondylitis.

Question: I am a 36-year-old woman looking for an ankylosing spondylitis treatment. I'm bending forward due to the fusion occurring, particularly in my neck. Are there any back or neck braces that I could wear to maintain the posture I currently have and prevent further curving?

Answer: Forward flexion (bending forward) of the neck and trunk is a problem for people with ankylosing spondylitis. Wearing a neck or back braces is not a practical solution to prevent further flexion, but there are other relatively simple ankylosing spondylitis treatments you can do to help maintain your posture.

First, always sit and stand as erect as possible because correct posture is important. Second, sleep on your back without a pillow under your head and neck (or use as flat a pillow as possible). Third, break up long periods of sitting or standing in a forward-flexed position (such as sitting at a desk) with flexibility exercises.

Most importantly, you should exercise every day. Your regular routine should include exercises that emphasize back and neck extension as well as stretching and mobility of the chest and upper trunk. I would recommend seeing a physical therapist, who will be able to instruct you in an appropriate exercise program.

Kitty Haralson, PT, MLA (retired)
Regional Arthritis Center
Washington University Medical School 
St. Louis, Missouri

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