Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis

If you have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, it is likely you have suffered from this chronic condition from a fairly young age. Most people are diagnosed between their teenage years and their mid-40s, although young children and senior citizens can also develop this spinal disease.

While there is no cure, treating ankylosing spondylitis can relieve pain and increase mobility. The good news is that most patients can live relatively normal lives with good treatment and management.

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis affecting the spine. In a worst-case scenario, it also affects the lungs and heart, but those instances are relatively rare. Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis vary by the individual. For example, in some people, there is mild pain that waxes and wanes, while with others the pain is constant and severe. Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms, but others include:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Bowel problems
  • Compression fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia

Treating This Condition

Ankylosing spondylitis has no cure, but the condition is treatable. Treatment generally focuses on pain relief and preventing or slowing down possible joint and spinal deformities.

Immediate Treatments

Ankylosing spondylitis requires both treatment and management for success. Immediate treatment may consist of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen or ibuprofen for pain relief, or injectable corticosteroids for those with severe pain. Hot and cold therapy is also useful if needed. Heat is best to treat soreness relating to lack of activity, while cold is best when soreness results from excess activity.

Long-Term Treatments

For those whose ankylosing spondylitis has advanced, inflammation-fighting drugs such as an interleukin IL-17 inhibitor or a tumor necrosis blocker factor may prove necessary. The doctor may usually send patients to a physical therapist to work on strength improvement and mobility issues. Depending on the individual patient, the doctor will consult with ophthalmologists, cardiologists and other specialists for patient treatment.

Ankylosing spondylitis often disrupts sleep patterns, so the doctor may also recommend techniques to help patients get a better night’s sleep or prescribe medications to aid in falling asleep.

Since inflammation is a strong factor in ankylosing spondylitis, it is best to avoid food and drink that can cause inflammation and consume a low inflammation diet. The doctor can recommend an appropriate low inflammation diet, along with an exercise program. Low impact exercise such as swimming is especially beneficial.

Most patients diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis will not require surgery, but there are exceptions. If a joint has been severely damaged, joint replacement surgery may be needed. Depending on their symptoms, those with ankylosing spondylitis may need to consult doctors of various specialties, including cardiologists, ophthalmologists, or gastroenterologists.

Learn More About Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis Today

Whether you are just beginning to experience the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis or you have an advanced condition, you should seek treatment to manage your symptoms. With appropriate treatment, you may be able to return to a normal life. A doctor can evaluate your condition and provide a plan for treating ankylosing spondylitis. Call today to get started on a treatment plan for your specific symptoms and stage of the disorder.