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Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis and Related Diseases

A common treatment regimen for the various forms of spondyloarthritis (ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthritis, reactive arthritis, juvenile spondyloarthritis, and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis) involves medication, exercise, physical therapy, good posture practices, and other options such as applying heat/cold to help relax muscles and reduce joint pain. In severe cases, posture correcting surgery may also be an option.

Depending on the type of spondyloarthritis, there may be some variation in treatment. For example, in psoriatic arthritis, both the skin component and joint component must be treated. In enteropathic arthritis (spondylitis/arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease), medications may need to be adjusted so the gastrointestinal component of the disease is also treated and not exacerbated.

In September of 2015 the first ever treatment guidelines for U.S. physicians in ankylosing spondylitis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis were released by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and include “specific, actionable recommendations that clinicians could readily apply in their practices” to better serve the patient.

The guidelines were developed in partnership with the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) and the Spondyloarthritis Research & Treatment Network (SPARTAN). This huge accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations of our members and donors, as SAA provided the foundation funding for this undertaking, insisted that patients were active participants in the process, and has been closely involved in the project.

For more information visit the American College of Rheumatology / Spondylitis Association of America / Spondyloarthritis Research and Treatment Network 2015 Recommendations for the Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis and Non-Radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis

Read on the ACR website

SAA receives no government funding and relies on the generous donations from individuals to create and maintain the programs and services aimed at improving the futures of the 2.7 million Americans affected by spondylitis.

Medications

There are a number of different types and classes of medications used in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Note that different people respond to different medications with varying levels of effectiveness. Thus, it may take time to find the most effective course of treatment.

About Medications

Exercise & Posture

Exercise is an integral part of any spondylitis program. Fitting exercise into your day can be tough, but it needs to be done. Exercise is such a high priority that you must make time for it each day (even five to10 minutes during a work break is helpful). If you do, many benefits will follow from your efforts. A spondylitis exercise program will help you maintain good posture, flexibility and eventually help to lessen pain.

About Exercise & Posture

Diet & Nutrition

In recent years, many specialized diets have gained popularity among some people with arthritis. To date, few of these claims have been substantiated by rigorously controlled studies. That said, some people find that certain foods trigger changes in symptoms –– either for the better or the worse. If you find yourself noticing this type of pattern, try keeping a food diary for a few weeks to test if indeed what you eat makes a difference or if you have food sensitivities.

About Diet & Nutrition

Complementary Treatments

The National Institutes of Health defines complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be a part of conventional medicine. CAM therapies used alone are often referred to as "alternative." When used in addition to conventional medicine, they may be referred to as "complementary.” The list of what is considered to be CAM changes continually, as those therapies that are proven to be safe and effective become adopted into conventional health care and as new approaches to health care emerge.

About Complementary Treatments

Heat/Cold

Applying heat to stiff joints and tight muscles can help reduce pain and soreness. Applying cold to inflamed areas can help reduce swelling and muscle inflammation. Hot baths and showers can also help provide relief.

Surgery

In severe cases of spondyloarthritis, surgery can be an option, especially hip joint replacement. Surgical correction is also possible for those with severe kyphosis (severe downward curvature) of the spine, particularly in the neck, although this procedure is considered risky.

Related Resources

Video
Spondylitis Plus

New Spondyloarthritis Treatment Guidelines

Posted December 2015

In September of this year the American College of Rheumatology released the first ever recommendations for physicians in the US for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.  

Read more…
Updates

Troubleshooting Spondylitis: Complications and Comorbidities

Posted February 2016

Watch as noted rheumatologist Lianne Gensler, MD explains possible complications and comorbidities associated with spondylitis, including common issues—such as fatigue, uveitis, and osteoporosis—as well as rare complications.

Read more…

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Spondylitis Association of America

PO Box 5872
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

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