Although ankylosing spondylitis has no known cure, there are a variety of treatment options to reduce pain and discomfort and prevent it from getting worse. Proper treatment can reduce stiffness, help you maintain good posture, prevent spinal deformity, and basically keep you living a normal lifestyle.
The best form of treatment is a “group approach,” featuring a bunch of different health professionals working together, including a doctor, physical therapist, occupational therapists, and maybe even a surgeon.
Therapy and Exercise
Regular physical and/or occupational therapy will help maintain normal range of movement and body functionality.
Outside of physical therapy sessions, patients with ankylosing spondylitis should strive to get daily exercise, as it will reduce stiffness, and strengthen muscles. In addition, the deep breathing that comes with exercise will help keep the chest cage from getting stiff. If there is pain in a patient’s joints (especially the heels), swimming is a great form of exercise for those with ankylosing spondylitis.
Medications and Surgery
There are a variety of medications you can take to counter ankylosing spondylitis. In basic cases of the disease, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are typically used. Ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin are examples of NSAIDs. In more serious cases, stronger prescription drugs may be recommended.
Newer drugs have also been found effective to reduce pain and stiffness. Biologics, such as adalimumab (Humira), adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), etanercept-szzs (Erelzi), infliximab Remicade), and infliximab-dyyb (Inflectra) have all been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.
Always consult your doctor as to which medication might be the right choice for your specific condition and needs. In some cases, steroid injections into the joints or tendons can also be useful.
Some patients may opt for artificial joint replacement surgery, although it is typically used in the hip and knee joints and not the spine.