Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment:
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and stiffness, and prevent or delay complications and spinal deformity. Ankylosing spondylitis treatment is most successful early, before it causes irreversible damage to your joints, such as fusion, especially in positions that limit your function.

. . . Medications
Your doctor may recommend that you take one or more of the following medications:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs — such as naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) and indomethacin (Indocin) — are the medications doctors most commonly use to treat ankylosing spondylitis. They can relieve your inflammation, pain and stiffness.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs Your doctor may prescribe a DMARD, such as sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) or methotrexate (Rheumatrex), to treat inflamed joints of the legs and arms and other tissues. This class of drugs helps limit the amount of joint damage that occurs.
  • Corticosteroids These medications, such as prednisone, may suppress inflammation and slow joint damage in severe cases of ankylosing spondylitis. You usually take them orally, ideally for a limited period of time because of their side effects. Occasionally, corticosteroids are injected directly into a painful joint.
  • Tumor necrosis factor blockers Doctors originally used TNF blockers to treat rheumatoid arthritis. TNF is a cytokine, or cell protein, that acts as an inflammatory agent in rheumatoid arthritis. TNF blockers target or block this protein and can help reduce pain, stiffness, and tender or swollen joints. These medications, such as adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade), may decrease inflammation and improve pain and stiffness for people with ankylosing spondylitis.

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    . . . Physical therapy
    Physical therapy can provide a number of benefits, from pain relief to improved physical strength and flexibility. Your doctor may recommend that you meet with a physical therapist to provide you with specific exercises designed for your needs.

    Range-of-motion and stretching exercises can help maintain flexibility in your joints and preserve good posture. In addition, specific breathing exercises can help to sustain and enhance your lung capacity.

    As your condition worsens, your upper body may begin to stoop forward. Proper sleep and walking positions and abdominal and back exercises can help maintain your upright posture. Though you may develop spine stiffness despite your treatment, proper posture can help to ensure that your spine is fused in a fixed upright position.

    . . . Surgery
    Most people with ankylosing spondylitis don't need surgery. However, your doctor may recommend surgery if you have severe pain or joint damage, or if a nonspinal joint is so damaged that it needs to be replaced. Spinal surgery is only rarely required.

    Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment . . . PREVENTION:
    Because genetic factors appear to play a part in ankylosing spondylitis, it's not possible to prevent the disease. However, being aware of any personal risk factors for the disease can help in early detection and treatment. Proper and early treatment can relieve joint pain and help to prevent or delay the onset of physical deformities.

    Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment . . . What you can do:
    If you smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for your health, but creates additional problems for people with ankylosing spondylitis. Depending on the severity of your condition, ankylosing spondylitis can affect the mobility of your rib cage. Damaging your lungs by smoking can further compromise your ability to breathe.


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