If you have been diagnosed with
ankylosing spondylitis, there are steps that you can
take at home to help reduce pain and stiffness and allow you to continue daily
activities. These steps include:
Educating yourself. Learn all you can about
your condition and know what complications to watch for. This will help you
control your symptoms and stay more active.
Taking pain relievers
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to
reduce pain. If NSAIDs do not relieve your pain, try acetaminophen. Heat, such
as warm showers or baths or sleeping under a warm electric blanket, may also
reduce pain and stiffness.
Exercising regularly. This reduces pain
and stiffness and helps maintain fitness and mobility of the spine, chest, and
joints. Your doctor may recommend
physical therapy to get you started on an exercise
Deep breathing exercises can improve or
help you keep your lung capacity.
Swimming as part of your exercise program
helps to maintain chest expansion and movement of the spine without jarring the
spine. Breaststroke is especially good for chest expansion.
should avoid contact sports, because joint fusion may make your spine more
likely to fracture as the disease progresses. Your doctor may approve of other
activities such as golf and tennis. Check with your doctor before you add any
Maintaining proper posture and chest expansion.
Good posture is important because it can help prevent
abnormal bending of the spine. Maintaining chest expansion may help prevent
problems such as lung infection (pneumonia). It's a good idea to lie on your
stomach a few times each day to keep your spine and hips extended. For
sleeping, choose a firm mattress and a small pillow that supports your neck.
Try to lie flat on your back to sleep. If it's comfortable for you, you can
also sleep part of the night on your stomach.
assistive devices such as canes or walkers. Your local
chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, your physical therapist, or a medical
supply company may be able to help you find assistive devices in your area.
Taking steps to protect yourself in the car, such as always using
a seat belt. Joints that are inflamed or damaged can easily be injured in an
accident. If your neck is becoming stiff, your doctor may advise you to wear a
soft neck brace when you ride in the car, to prevent injury in case of an
Avoiding smoking, to prevent serious breathing
problems and lung scarring. Lung damage from smoking, combined with
decreased chest expansion and the lung infections that sometimes go with
ankylosing spondylitis, can seriously limit your ability to breathe freely.
Seeing your doctor (often a
rheumatologist) at least once each year, to check on
your condition and watch for any complications. Catching complications early
and treating them can prevent further problems.
Having regular eye
exams by an
ophthalmologist, to check for inflammation of the
colored part of the eye (iritis).
Talking with your doctor about your job. A job that is physically demanding—such as a job that requires lots of heavy lifting—could increase your symptoms.
Joining a support group. For
more information, call the Spondylitis Association of America toll-free at
1-800-777-8189, or visit the association's website at
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this