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Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

The goal is to relieve the joint pain and to prevent, delay, or correct deformities.

Drugs used in Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like naproxen (Naprosyn) or indomethacin (Indocin) are used to relieve pain and stiffness. In severe cases, sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), another drug to reduce inflammation, or methotrexate (Rheumatrex), an immune-suppressing drug, is recommended. In cases where chronic therapy is needed, potential drug side effects must be taken into consideration. Corticosteroid drugs are effective in relieving symptoms, but are usually reserved for severe cases that do not improve when NSAIDs are used. To avoid potential side effects, treatment with corticosteroids is usually limited to a short amount of time with a gradual weaning from the drug.

Corticosteroid therapy or medications to suppress the immune system may be prescribed to control various symptoms. Some health care professionals use cytotoxic drugs (drugs that block cell growth) in people who do not respond well to corticosteroids or who are dependent on high doses of corticosteroids.

Drugs called TNF-inhibitors have been shown to improve the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis


Exercise as a Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

Physical therapists prescribe exercises to prevent a stooped posture and breathing problems when the spine starts to fuse and ribs are affected. Back braces may be used to prevent continued deformity of the spine and ribs. Only in severe cases of deformity is surgery performed to straighten and realign the spine, or to replace knee, shoulder, or hip joints.

Exercises can help improve posture and breathing. Lying flat on the back at night can help maintain normal posture. Use devices to help with activities of daily living.

Physical therapy is usually recommended to patients. Learning exercises that strengthen all the supporting muscles in the lower back can make a big difference.

Surgery as a Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

Surgery may be performed if pain or joint damage is severe.

Surgery plays a very small part in the management of this condition. About 6% of people with AS need to have a hip replaced. This will successfully restore mobility and eliminate pain of the damaged joint. In rare cases surgery is used to restore a straighter posture of the spine and neck to people who have become severely stooped.

Other considerations

Practicing good posture techniques will also help avoid some of the complications of AS including stiffness and flexion deformities (downward curvature) of the spine

Apply heat and cold to the lower back to control inflaming can help control pain and flexibility.


Modified 5-15-2013   Information compiled from the National Institutes of Health >

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