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Ankylosing Spondylitis: 9 Treatment Options

November 7, 2017
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The goal of medical treatment for an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis is to relieve chronic pain and stiffness —to help patients maintain a standard quality of life. Ankylosing spondylitis treatment is most successful before the disease causes irreversible damage to your joints.


Medications

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counters, like Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, reduce pain and inflammation. They are generally safe for consumption with other medications. Be sure to consult with your doctor or specialist on correct dosages.

Medication specifically for ankylosing spondylitis

TNF Blockers. TNF blockers help reduce pain, stiffness, and tender or swollen joints. These medications are injected under the skin or through an intravenous line. The five TNF blockers approved by the Food & Drug Administration to treat ankylosing spondylitis are:

  • Adalimumab (Humira)
  • Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
  • Etanercept (Enbrel)
  • Golimumab (Simponi; Simponi Aria)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Secukinumab (Cosentyx) is the first IL-17 inhibitor approved by the FDA for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.
TNF blockers and IL-17 inhibitors can reactivate latent tuberculosis and make you more prone to infection.


Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help to treat chronic back pain, improve posture, build strength and increase flexibility. A physical therapist can design specific exercises for your needs. Here are some that your therapist may recommend or walk you through:

Posture Training. This therapy is designed to help you avoid slouching or forward bending.

Occupational Therapy. This focuses on helping you avoid fatigue and increases energy for doing your everyday activities. Your physical therapist will teach you how to move your body efficiently when performing daily activities to avoid strain and to prevent excessive bending or in some cases loss of balance.

Back and Core Exercises. These exercises key in on your core, lower back and abdominal muscles to further endure that you can hold proper posture for standing and walking, as well as perform your daily life activities.

Woman with ankylosing spondylitis performing core exercises.

Back Stretches. More exercises designed to help with posture, flexibility, and chest expansion.

Flexibility Exercises. These exercises focus on helping you with range of motion to prevent your spine and joints from getting stiff.

Deep-Breathing Techniques. These help to oxygenate muscles, and improve blood flow and circulation while opening jump your chest and strengthening your core and abdomen for walking and sitting.


Surgery

Surgery is not generally recommended for people with ankylosing spondylitis unless your doctor identifies severe pain or joint damage, or damage has reached your hip warranting a hip replacement surgery.

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