The Effects of Massage on Pain, Stiffness, and Fatigue Levels Associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis: A Case Study

Rosemary Chunco, LMT, BA, MSc


Objectives: To study the effects of massage on pain, stiffness, and fatigue in a patient recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Methods: A 47-year-old woman with AS diagnosed 11 months earlier received 7 massages across a 28-day period. Her pain, stiffness, and fatigue were recorded using visual analogue scales daily during the study period. Spinal mobility was measured at each massage session with finger-to-floor measurements for both forward and lateral flexion. The client also used a daily journal to supply pertinent information on quality of life.

Results: Improvement was recorded in all dependent variables, with stiffness intensity showing the greatest improvement, to a final value of 0.75 from an initial value of 5. Duration of stiffness also showed improvement, to a final value of 1.2 from an initial value of 3.5. Improvement was also found in general pain (final value: 1; initial value: 4), fatigue (final value: 1.5; initial value 5), and forward and lateral flexion (forward flexion distance—final: 4 inches; initial: 6 inches; lateral flexion, left distance: final, 16.5 inches; initial, 21 inches; right distance: final, 16.5 inches; initial, 20.5 inches).

Conclusions: Massage shows promise as a treatment for symptoms associated with AS. Further study is needed to validate these effects and to determine the feasibility of massage as an adjunct to standard care for AS patients with mild-tomoderate symptoms of AS.


Ankylosing spondylitis; massage therapy; fatigue; pain

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International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
ISSN 1916-257X