Based primarily on current treatments, there is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. However, treatments can alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation and possibly prevent complications as well as slow progression of the disease, resulting in minimized risks of long-term disability. Treatment options include:
- Medications: To relieve pain and stiffness, common medicines prescribed in patients with ankylosing spondylitis are pain killer drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and anti- rheumatic drugs as well as other groups of medications. Since some of these medicines may produce side effects or adverse drug reactions, they must be taken strictly as instructed by the pharmacists.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy provides a number of benefits, from pain alleviation to improved physical strength and preserved good posture. A wide variety of treatment to relieve pain include stretching, massage, exercising, joint mobilization or manipulation, cryotherapy and ultrasound.
- Surgery: Surgery might be recommended if patients have severe pain or joint damage and poor posture caused by joint stiffness. Surgery helps to restore range of motion of the spine and improve quality of life.
- Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle modification that can help improve the symptoms include avoid using a pillow that is too high or too stiff, avoid bending positions, practice good posture and lie flat with straight back
- Other treatments: If complications develop, treatments given by the specialists are further needed, such as eye inflammation (uveitis) and heart problems.
Chronic back pain should not be overlooked since it might indicate ankylosing spondylitis. If left untreated, spine eventually becomes inflexible and fusion can stiffen the rib cage as well as restrict heart and lung functions, resulting in serious complications and long-term disability. Accurate diagnosis and effective treatments must be timely applied in order to relieve back pain, slow disease progression and prevent other complications that may arise.
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