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There are a lot of places that offer advice for all types of arthritis in including Ankylosing Spondylitis. We decided the best place to get advice was from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society. Below is a copy of their brochure.

Advice from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society


This relates to the position of your body at any time during the day or night. The position you adopt affects the position of your spine. Poor posture will be detrimental to the ultimate position of your spine.

Get a suitable chair

The ideal chair either at home or at work has a firm seat and an upright, firm back, preferably extending to the head. A chair with arms will also help to relieve weight from the spine. The seat should not be too long, as you may have difficulty in placing your lower spine into the back of the chair. The chair should be of a height which will allow you to keep a right angle with the knee and hip joints. Whatever you do, avoid low, soft chairs and sofas as they will encourage bad posture and increase pain.

Watch how you sit

Try to move your spine regularly, straighten it out and stretch it by sitting tall and pulling your shoulders back. Try not to sit for too long. Stand up, walk about and limber up. -

Take care with your bed, mattress and pillow

The ideal bed should be firm, without sag, but not too hard. If you have an interior sprung mattress with a sprung base which is not very firm, place a sheet of chipboard or plywood between the mattress and the base. Try to use as few pillows as possible, preferably only one. A feather pillow can be molded to suit any position and still give your neck good support. If you decide to buy a new bed it does not need to be the most expensive. You should choose an ordinary interior sprung mattress with a firm edge. If possible, lie on the mattress for 20 minutes before purchasing to see if it is comfortable.

Lie flat on your back or your front for 20 minutes a day

It is beneficial to take the weight off your spine by lying horizontal for 15 - 20 minutes a day. Some of this time should be spent lying on your bed on your back with your legs dangling towards the floor.

Try heat or cold

In its various forms heat will help to relieve pain and stiffness. Many people find a hot bath or shower first thing in the morning and/or before bed reduces pain and stiffness, especially if some stretching exercises are done at the same time. You may also find hot water bottles or electric blankets useful in bed. If you have a particularly inflamed area, an ice-pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel may help. But do take care as ice can burn.

Don't wear a corset or a brace

Some doctors who are not familiar with the modern management of AS prescribe corsets and braces. These often make matters worse, as they hold the spine rigid. And, with AS, not moving leads to not being able to move!

Eat well

You will need to eat a good nourishing diet with plenty of protein found in meat, fish and pulses. Eat fruit and vegetables for vitamins and drink milk for calcium. However, avoid becoming overweight. -


Alcohol in moderation is not bad for AS. However, anti-inflammatory drugs and alcohol can both affect the stomach lining and should therefore not be taken together.

Don't smoke

AS can reduce the capacity of the lungs. Smoking can make this even worse, making you more prone to lung infections and shortness of breath. If you are a smoker, it is therefore important that you stop. -

Avoid osteopathy, chiropractic and manipulation

Although osteopathy and chiropractic are useful for some conditions, we do not recommend them for AS the manipulation can be inappropriate.

Consider alternative remedies carefully

We encourage people to do whatever they find helps, provided it is not expensive or dangerous. NASS members have tried alternative remedies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and homeopathy. So far none has been shown to have any advantage over conventional medical treatment, although there is evidence to suggest that massage and relaxation techniques provide some benefit. If you do want to try alternative remedies, please make sure that the practitioner fully understands the nature of AS. -


This can greatly influence the outcome of your AS. A physiotherapist will teach you an exercise routine for daily use and will remind you to be aware of your posture. You will also learn how to increase the range of movement of certain joints, particularly shoulders and hips. It is important to keep your muscles strong because lack of movement can weaken them and it may take a long time to build them up again. You also need to learn how to stretch the muscles that become shortened. NASS can supply you with both an audio cassette and an exercise video for you to follow at home. On joining the Society you can also attend supervised weekly group physiotherapy sessions organized by your nearest NASS branch. -

 updated 7-7-2013

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