Your Ribs

Keeping your ribcage flexible

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

With axial SpA your ribs can become inflamed

The ribs can become inflamed where they attach to the spine. This is painful and can lead to stiffness and even fusion.

Inflammation of the ribs may cause pains that can be confused with the pain of cardiac or lung problems. Anyone experiencing symptoms of chest pain should seek medical attention to rule out a more serious condition.

In normal breathing the ribs move up and down with each breath. If the ribs become stiff, the ribs rise and fall less well. This means that breathing takes place using only the flat muscle below the lungs separating the lungs from the belly (diaphragm). You don’t stop being able to breathe if the ribs fuse but tight clothing around the belly will be more uncomfortable as it will make it more difficult for you to breathe.

Breathing exercises encourage you to maintain your rib movements so you do not have to rely entirely on your diaphragm muscle.

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