Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Arthritis Health Center

How to Get Ankylosing Spondylitis Support

Font Size
A
A
A
By Jennifer Rainey Marquez
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David Zelman, MD

When Shannon Coleman was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), she was surprised by how hard the condition hit her.

“I’d had issues with my back for more than 10 years before I finally got a diagnosis in May 2014,” she says. “I thought I’d be prepared because I work in the health care field -- I’m a medical assistant at a spine clinic -- but I was struck by how debilitating it was to suddenly not be able to live my normal life as a working mom.”

Recommended Related to Arthritis

Pain Management for Your Back

The best defense against back pain from ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is controlling your disease with a daily treatment plan. It will usually include medications your doctor recommends. When the pain is worse than normal and you’re having a flare, your doctor may have you try other drugs. But you can take steps on your own, in addition to meds, to ease pain and stiffness.

Read the Pain Management for Your Back article > >

Coleman, like many other people with AS, had to learn how to get the support she needed at home and at work. While asking for help can be tough, there are ways to make it a bit easier -- in general, at work, and at home.

In General

Put aside any feelings of guilt. You might have trouble with the idea of asking for help, says Susan Goodman, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

“When people first get diagnosed, they’re typically adults at the peak of their physical competence, often with young families, and then suddenly they’ve become debilitated by this illness.”

Keep in mind that once you start treatment, many of the worst symptoms may lift, Goodman says.

“The overall outlook for AS has significantly improved in the last few years. The medications available today, particularly when used in conjunction with physical therapy and exercise, can go a huge way toward restoring an active lifestyle.”

Explain that AS can be an “invisible” disease. “You can look at me and say, ‘She’s healthy, she’s great, I don’t see anything wrong,’” Coleman says. “But that’s not always true.”

Coleman notes that friends, family, supervisors, and co-workers often need to be educated about how challenging this disease can be, even when people with it don’t look sick.

Remind people that even if you seem fine, you could still be struggling, and you may need their help to get through those tough days.

Be open about your pain level every day. Symptoms of AS can vary greatly from person to person and from day to day. One strategy that Coleman uses is to rate her pain level for her husband and daughter each day, using a scale of 1 (mild) to 10 (severe).

1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Mature woman exercise at home
Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
feet with gout
Quiz yourself.
 
woman in pain
One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
senior couple walking
Can you keep your RA from progressing?
 
xray of knees with osteoarthritis
Slideshow
close up of man wearing dress shoes
Slideshow
 
feet with gout
Quiz
close up of red shoe in shoebox
Slideshow
 
salad
Video
two male hands
ARTICLE
 
Woman massaging her neck
Quiz
5 Lupus Risk Factors
Article