Five Ways to Improve Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment Today

Five Ways To Improve Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment TodayBattling against ankylosing spondylitis is exhausting, and it’s easy to lose sight of your ability to fight back. Below are five ways you can improve your ankylosing spondylitis treatment.

 

Personally, I’m notorious for opting out of my responsibility to maintain the highest quality of life that I can with this disease. The list below started as a series of notes to myself about ways that I could improve my ankylosing spondylitis treatment after a week of selfishly avoiding taking care of it.

Is there something you’ve been struggling with that, perhaps, isn’t on this list? Leave a comment below and let me know about it – putting these struggles into writing can help give us power over them.

1. Exercise and Physical Therapy

You aren’t exercising enough. Yeah, we’ve all heard that the best way to deal with ankylosing spondylitis is physical therapy and exercise. Studies have shown supervised training and home exercise improve long-term outcome in AS patients. So why would you be avoiding it?

 

Register for that embarrassing yoga class, join a gym and talk to your doctor about physical therapy. There’s no better time than now to begin to consider just how important a role exercise plays in maintaining your mobility. For life.

 

If exercise is a good idea for people who don’t have to worry about their bones fusing, how much better of an idea is it for you?

2. Listen to Your Doctor and Stop Avoiding Medications

So you saw the list of side effects that biologics and DMARDs can cause and now you think that it’s best to avoid them altogether, eh? Consider this: they’re known as side effects for a reason. They are the outliers when it comes to the usage of medications.

 

By avoiding treatments proven in clinical trials to help, you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

 

We live in time where medical science has finally advanced where patients receive more relief than ever before. It’s foolish to not use that to your advantage in your battle against ankylosing spondylitis.

3. Eat Healthier, Eat Smarter

Just like exercising, the healthier you eat, the more manageable your AS will become.

 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a low starch or a no starch diet can help significantly decrease your  AS symptoms. Not only that, but plenty of sufferers argue that they have even managed to put their ankylosing spondylitis in complete remission using this method. Besides, reaching a healthy weight means removing unneeded pressure on your already painful joints.

 

If you are what you eat, why wouldn’t you want to be more natural?

4. Start Tracking Your Pain Triggers

You’re locked in an everyday battle against ankylosing spondylitis, you need to learn your enemy and all their moves. The best way to do this is to track your pain on a regular basis.

 

If you wake up in more pain the day after eating pasta than after eating salad, how are you going to know if you don’t keep track of it? What about when you lift weights versus when you practice yoga?

 

Because the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis vary so much from victim to victim, tracking your pain is even more important.

5. Don’t Ignore Your Social Support Group

You absolutely can’t win your battle against ankylosing spondylitis by fighting alone. Psychological effects of chronic pain include things like depression and impairment of cognitive function. No one can expect to handle these things on their own.

 

The best way to fight back against this is to reach out to a social support group. Whether it’s the Spondylitis Association of America, the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society or just your tight-knit group of friends, you can’t do it alone. You need to be able to seek out support on your bad days and maintain that connection on your good days.

 

Foster your family ties and friendships. No matter how painful your body may feel today, it’ll only feel worse when experienced under the long shadow of loneliness.

5 thoughts on “Five Ways to Improve Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment Today

  1. I think you need to addressing root cause issues as well and not just symptoms. If AS is triggered by an infection, wouldn’t it make sense to have that checked out?

    1. Joe,
      I agree! I’ve been more focused on the root causes (ex: HLA-B27, inflammation) than the triggers (ex: infection, injury) because the triggers can vary so wildly between sufferers. I’m hoping to get more material up that addresses that, though.

      W

  2. Hi Wes,

    I am in alignment with most of what you said in this article. The only area where our thinking diverges is in the realm of taking medications. Now I realize that in regards to AS there is a vast spectrum of severity of the disease, unfortunately there are many individuals who struggle just to make it through each day. And I know that for many people medications, especially the biologics, have changed their lives dramatically in a good way. But as your well aware, with the exception of NSAID’s, these drugs suppress the immune system and many people are reluctant about doing that. On top of that some of the possible side effects of these drugs are down right scary. Methotrexate can cause irreversible damage to the liver and lungs among a host of other calamities.

    Yes, these drugs have been clinically tested but not over a long period of time. At this point when someone gets put on a biologic, unless something better comes down the pike, they are looking at being on them for life. Ankylosing Spondylitis is a young persons disease. Most people get it between 15 and 35. That is a lot of time taking drugs that suppress the immune system.

    Personally I had an opportunity when the TNF-alpha blockers were first coming out in early 2003 to be part of an experimental group that could use the drugs at no costs. I opted out because for me the potentially serious side effects of a brand new drug out weighted the possible symptom relief. To this day I am glad I made that decision because I now don’t take any medications and haven’t for the last seven years.

    Anyway, thanks for advocating for the AS community with this website and I wish you well on your journey.

    P.S. I love the D-Day picture on the home page.

  3. Great post, found this from a post you made on the AS sub.
    I am newly diagnosed (just under a year) but have similar feelings to Andy.
    I got put on a 6month course of NSAIDs, to then go onto TNFs some point in the future.
    After a week of NSAIDs, it played havoc with my gut, so did as much reading up on AS and uncovered a number of stories & studies around the relationship between the gut and AS (which I am sure your aware of). This led me to play with diet, beginning with no starch but not transistioned to Paleo Auto Immune Protocol (slightly tweaked to avoid starch). Still early days, but feel like I can definitely correlate flares with when I have been less strict with the diet and good days when I stick to it.

    The thing I struggled with NSAIDs, is that they are known to cause issues with your gut. From the reading I did, there seems to be some hypothesis that leaky gut is also related to AS. So, NSAIDs damage the gut lining, but good diet fixes it = for me, I am currently skipping the NSAIDs and trying the diet approach, and hoping it works.

    This is the first time in my life that I have not taken the path recommended by the doctor (i.e. my rheumy), but I want to at least try the non-pharma path to begin with. I understand that doctors cant really prescribe a specific diet, as its a case by case basis and they also have little control over if the patient will stick to it (I imagine for a lot of patients they would not), and it is easier for them to prescribe medication that has gone through the relevant testing process (and of course there are many more studies on effects of pharmaceuticals, as funding is greater).

    I liked your point 4, will begin to use FitnessPal to record my eating habits. For me, it seems like a bad food choice can take 48-72 hours to take effect, so can be tricky pinpointing what food caused the issue.

    1. I’ve been experimenting with diet for the last two years and, I’ve got to say, there’s definitely a correlation. The fact that this is rarely addressed by doctors (I say ‘rarely,’ but that only based on anecdotal experiences) is a real sore spot for a lot of us sufferers.

      I included some diet information on the Resources page, but if you know of any other links that you think would be useful, don’t hesitate to let me know!

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