Ankylosing Spondylitis Information on Risk Factors & Treatment

Treatment

Ankylosing spondylitis treatment is most helpful when it is started before the inflammation of the disease has severely damaged the joints of the body. Treatment goals for ankylosing spondylitis are focused on:

  • Helping to control the aches, pain, and stiffness caused by the disease
  • Helping to delay or prevent complications of the disease 
  • The prevention of deformities caused by the disease 

Medications

Medications for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis most often include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples of these are aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. These drugs help in ankylosing treatment by controlling pain and they are also effective for reducing inflammation. NSAIDs should be taken with food to help prevent gastrointestinal side effects. 

Sometimes doctors treat ankylosing spondylitis with medications known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. These medications are also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. They are beneficial in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis because they relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness by decreasing the response of the body to inflammation. Examples of TNFs used in ankylosing spondylitis treatment include:

  • Adalimumab (Humira)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Golimumab (Simponi)
  • Etanercept (Enbrel)

TNFs are administered by injection, either through a needle inserted just under the surface of the skin (subcutaneously) or intravenously (IV). Since these drugs decrease the body's ability to fight off infections, certain people should not use them in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. This includes people who have decreased immunity or are at risk for tuberculosis, or who have latent TB.

Therapy

Physical therapy is often prescribed as a treatment for ankylosing spondylitis and can provide many benefits, including: 

  • Posturing education: to help reduce pain and prevent complications
  • Stretching exercises and Range of motion exercises: to help maintain joint flexibility and mobility
  • Aerobic exercise: to increase or maintain endurance
  • Pain management techniques
  • Proper sleep positioning: Adequate rest is essential when coping with ankylosing spondylitis
  • Use of adaptive equipment or assistive devices.

    Surgery

    Surgery is usually not recommended as a treatment for ankylosing spondylitis unless severe joint damage has occurred or the pain of the condition is extremely severe.