The physiotherapy team at Eastbourne DGH runs a support service for local people with ankylosing spondylitis; a painful and debilitating form of inflammatory arthritis which mainly affects the spine.
If left untreated, the condition can lead to severe disability and deformity. It affects around 0.25 per cent of the population, which means that some 250 people in Eastbourne may have the condition.
Physiotherapist Karen Kenyon said the sessions focus on exercise but also give people the chance to meet other sufferers for support,
She said, “Exercise is the most important thing you can do to help yourself, as the fitter and more flexible you are, the better you will be able to deal with stiffness and pain.
“However, lots of patients are unsure of what they can do and are scared they might make things worse by exercising, so we have developed an exercise programme especially for people with ankylosing spondylitis.
“The exercises can be done at home without any need for specialist equipment.
“We also hold two weekly classes at the hospital as part of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society’s programme – one in the gym and the other in the hydrotherapy pool.
“The classes are run by a physiotherapist with a special interest in ankylosing spondylitis so patients can discuss any problems at the same time.
“The classes are also an opportunity to socialise with others who have the same condition.”
Jeff King, aged 44, was diagnosed with the condition in 2011.
He attends the gym class every week and finds considerable benefit from exercise.
He told the Gazette about his experience and how it has improved his life for the better. He said he would recommend the services provided at the DGH and by the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society to other sufferers.
He said, “I’ve had problems with my joints since I was a teenager, particularly in my back and my hands so it was a relief to find out the cause and to learn how to manage the symptoms.
“As well as taking medication I make sure that I exercise regularly as it is so important to stretch out the muscles and keep flexible.
“Even if it’s difficult I make sure I swim or go to the gym every day as you can’t let the condition get on top of you.
“The team at the DGH is fantastic.
“If I have a flare up or need some advice, they are always available.
“The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) offer great support too.
“For example they have helped me to liaise with my employers when I’ve been unable to work.”
To find out more about the physiotherapy and support services available at Eastbourne DGH should visit
www.nass.co.uk/eastbourne or contact Karen Kenyon on 01323 414 936
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