When Back Pain Is Not 'Just Back Pain!'

On Wednesday 28th November, Dr Coy, Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation at New Hall Hospital, hosted an Axial Spondyloarthritis education evening for patients and relatives at Salisbury Foundation Trust. This was the first such event of its kind in Salisbury, and was really well attended by eighteen patients and a handful of partners, along with Dr Coy, two physiotherapists, Sally Dickinson Head of Information and Support Services (NASS – National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society) and Nigel Cleeve, out local NASS representative. 

The evening was kicked off by Dr Coy’s presentation on Axial Spondyloarthritis (the new umbrella term for Ankylosing Spondylitis and related conditions). This is a chronic systemic inflammatory rheumatological condition, which is very heterogeneous in its presentation, and can be associated with increased morbidity and mortality. One of the ongoing concerns with this condition is a delay in the time from symptom presentation to diagnosis, which is currently 8-11 years. Hence, there is a need to reduce this delay to ensure that individuals are diagnosed in a more timely manner, and subsequently, have earlier access to appropriate treatment. 

Dr Coy’s talk went through diagnosis and management, along with explaining the difference between inflammatory versus mechanical musculoskeletal symptoms, particularly when considering back pain, and also covered the recent and quite complicated changes in terminology. Claire Fry, Senior Physiotherapist, with an interest in Rheumatology, followed on with a series of spinal mobility exercises to get the audience up and moving, and then a presentation on the benefits of exercise therapy in this condition.

Sally Dickinson concluded the evening with a very informative presentation on the role of NASS, and the vital part played by this extremely active charity in their continued support of patients and clinicians, by promoting awareness, education and research in this group of related conditions. She even suggested that the organisation may change its name in the future to the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society, which fortunately involves no change in the existing acronym! The presentations all generated many questions from the floor and there was ample opportunity for healthy debate and sharing of personal experiences.

Patient feedback from the evening was extremely positive, with many reporting a much better understanding of their condition following the presentations, and many saying that they had far more appreciation of the benefits of exercise as a result. A common theme was the importance of peer support and how helpful it was to share experiences and ideas with other patients/partners. Although some of those in attendance already attend the NASS group in the Trust on Tuesday evenings, the feedback clearly highlighted the need to offer more opportunity for patients to meet in similar forums, with an emphasis on peer support. This is something that Dr Coy, who has a particular clinical interest in this area of rheumatology, is certainly planning to facilitate moving forwards. 

Take a look at Dr Coy's profile for more information on the practice she delivers at New Hall Hospital.


Share this article