Public Release: 

Inspiratory muscle training improves lung function in ankylosing spondylitis

Data show clear benefits over conventional treatment after just 8 weeks

European League Against Rheumatism

Rome, Italy, 12 June 2015: The results of a study presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2015) showed that inspiratory muscle training (IMT) significantly improves lung strength and efficiency in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a condition often associated with breathing difficulties. These findings demonstrate that just eight weeks of IMT provide greater improvements in lung function than conventional treatment options.

AS is a painful and progressive form of arthritis caused by chronic inflammation of the joints in the spine. AS significantly impairs lung function, reducing pulmonary muscle strength and endurance in up to 40%-80% of patients. Prevalence of AS varies globally, and is estimated at 23.8 per 10,000 in Europe and 31.9 per 10,000 in North America.

Inspiratory muscle training is a course of therapy consisting of a series of breathing exercises to strengthen the bodies' pulmonary muscles.

"We assessed resting pulmonary function and ran cardiopulmonary exercise tests at the start and end of the study and saw significant improvements across all measures of lung function in the group undergoing IMT," said study investigator Dr. Razvan Dragoi, MD, PhD, Department of Rehabilitation, Physical Medicine and Rheumatology, Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Romania. "When you compare these findings with the conventional exercise group - which saw small, non-significant improvements - it's clear that adding IMT to an exercise programme has clear health benefits for patients with AS."

Fifty four patients with AS were randomised to either conventional rehabilitation exercise training (consisting of 20 exercises including motion and flexibility exercises of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, and abdominal and diaphragm breathing exercises) associated with IMT (using a real time computer-assisted device three times a week); or conventional training alone. Each IMT session was individualised by evaluating the maximum inspiratory pressure that can be maintained by the patient (SMIT) and performed at 80%-85% of SMIT. Although the IMT and conventional exercise groups were homogenous at the beginning of the study, by the end of eight weeks the IMT group showed significant improvements in chest expansion, aerobic capacity, resting pulmonary function and ventilator efficiency.


Abstract Number: OP0173


For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress Press Office in Room 5B of Fiera Roma during EULAR 2015 or on:
Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7738 890 799/+44 (0) 20 7331 5442
Twitter: @EULAR_Press
Youtube: Eular Pressoffice


The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is an umbrella organisation which represents scientific societies, health professional associations and organisations for people with rheumatic diseases throughout Europe.

EULAR aims to promote, stimulate and support the research, prevention, and treatment of rheumatic diseases and the rehabilitation of those it affects.

With 45 scientific member societies, 35 People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe (PARE) organisations, 19 health professionals associations and 21 corporate members, EULAR highlights the importance of combating rheumatic diseases through both medical means and patient care.

EULAR 2015 is set to be the biggest rheumatology event in Europe with around 14,000 scientists, physicians, allied health professionals and related audiences in attendance from more than 120 countries. Over the course of the congress there will be some 300 oral and just under 2,000 poster abstract presentations, more than 150 sessions, 400 lectures, 40 poster tours and 350 invited speakers

To find out more about the activities of EULAR, visit:

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