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A new study has shed light on some of the most prevalent modifiable factors that predict a poor quality of life in people with ankylosing spondylitis.
Moreover, the University of Aberdeen research indicated that some of these factors - which include pain, fatigue and poor physical function - are currently better monitored than others, suggesting new approaches to treating this painful condition may be needed.
The most important predictors for poor quality of life
The study analysed data from 959 patients involved in the Scotland Registry for Ankylosing Spondylitis, which collected clinical and patient-reported data on ankylosing spondylitis from across Scotland.
A total of five factors were identified as independent predictors of a poor quality of life among patients: moderate to severe fatigue, poor physical function, chronic widespread pain, high disease activity and poor spinal mobility.
Physical function is generally monitored using a tool called the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI), while the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) is used to measure disease activity, and the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Metrology Index (BASMI) is used to assess spinal mobility. However, this leaves two factors - chronic widespread pain and fatigue - that do not receive the same attention.
New focus needed on pain and fatigue
It was suggested that the nonspecific nature of these symptoms may explain why they are not traditionally monitored in ankylosing spondylitis to the same degree. However, given the important role they play in patients' quality of life, it could be beneficial for these trends to be monitored more closely.
The researchers concluded: "These findings provide evidence that in addition to traditional clinical targets (BASDAI, BASFI and BASMI), focus on nonspecific symptoms (chronic widespread pain and fatigue) - perhaps with nonpharmacological therapies - may yield important improvements in quality of life."
Arthritis Research UK's view
Dr Devi Rani Sagar, research liaison manager at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Ankylosing spondyloarthritis is an incredibly painful condition, which affects 200,000 people in the UK and can dramatically reduce a person's quality of life, making everyday activities such as walking to the shops and standing in the kitchen extremely difficult.
"This new study demonstrates the impact that pain and fatigue can have on quality of life for people with this condition, and that monitoring these symptoms may help to give a better indication of the success of treatments. We welcome more research to find effective ways to reduce pain and fatigue to help make everyday life better for people with arthritis."
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