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Ankylosing Spondylitis - Treatment Overview

Treatment if the condition gets worse

In rare cases, you may need surgery to replace joints that are severely damaged by the inflammation of ankylosing spondylitis. The most common surgery done is hip replacement surgery. Spine surgery is done in a very small number of people who have ankylosing spondylitis. If there is loosening of the top two vertebrae in the neck and there are signs of pressure on the spinal cord such as numbness or clumsiness in the hands or arms, a surgeon may permanently join (fuse) the two vertebrae together. In very rare cases, spinal surgery may be done to straighten a part of the spine that has become severely curved, but the surgery is risky and cannot restore motion.

Because ankylosing spondylitis is a lifelong condition, other treatment may include complementary and alternative medicine therapies, which can reduce symptoms, help manage pain, and improve quality of life. Complementary and alternative medicine is the term for a wide variety of health care practices that may be used along with or in place of standard medical treatment. These therapies may include yoga and acupuncture.

Even if your symptoms are under control, you should see your doctor (often a rheumatologist) every year to watch for and treat any complications. People with hip symptoms and perhaps those whose disease started in their teens may be at risk for a more severe progression of ankylosing spondylitis.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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