Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis is mainly focused on alleviating pain and stiffness and preventing or delaying spinal complications and deformities. Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis is more effective if the disease does not cause irreversible damage to your joints.
Medications for Ankylosing Spondylitis
The most common medications used by doctors to treat ankylosing spondylitis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and indomethacin. These medications can reduce your pain, inflammation, and stiffness. These medications can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
Your doctor may recommend that you start a biological medication if NSAIDs don’t work, which may include tumor necrosis factors (TNF) inhibitor or interleukin-17 inhibitor (IL-17). TNF blockers target the cell protein that causes inflammation. IL-17 is involved in both the body’s defense from infection and inflammation.
TNF blockers reduce pain, swelling, stiffness, inflammation, and tenderness. You can inject the medication under your skin or via an intravenous line.
Five FDA-approved TNF-blockers for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis:
- Adalimumab, (Humira).
- Certolizumab (Cimzia).
- Etanercept (Enbrel).
- Golimumab, Simponi
- Infliximab, (Remicade).
FDA approved IL-17 inhibitors to treat ankylosing spondylitis, including secukinumab and ixekizumab.
TNF-blockers and IL-17 inhibitors can reactivate tuberculosis that has not been treated and increase your vulnerability to infection.
Your physician may recommend the JAK inhibitor tofacitinib if you cannot take TNF inhibitors or IL-17 inhibitors because of other medical conditions. This drug is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid and psoriatic joint disease. Its effectiveness in treating ankylosing spondylitis is currently being studied.
Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Stretching and range-of-motion exercises can help you maintain flexibility and good posture. Proper abdominal positions, sleeping, walking, and back and abdominal exercises can help keep a straight spine.
Physical therapy is an integral part of treatment. It can offer many benefits, including pain relief and improved strength and flexibility. Your needs can be met by a physical therapist who will design the exercises that you need.
Surgery for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a condition that most people don’t require surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery for severe pain, joint damage, or if your hip joint needs to be replaced.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle Modification for Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Use heat and cold. Apply heat to stiff joints and tight muscles to ease stiffness. You can use heating pads, hot baths, and showers to ease stiffness. Applying ice to inflamed areas may reduce swelling.
- Keep active. Exercise can ease pain, improve flexibility, and help you stand better.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is generally harmful to your health, and more so for the patients with ankylosing spondylitis. It may lead to further breathing difficulties.
- Good posture is vital. Ankylosing spondylitis can be avoided by standing straight in front of a mirror.